Chiefs’ career tackles leader Johnson to become free agent


Derrick Johnson’s tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs is coming to an end.

The franchise’s career tackles leader and a four-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson will become a free agent when his contract expires at the start of the new league year March 14. He intends to keep playing, it just won’t be in the familiar red, yellow and white of the Chiefs.

“I love Kansas City and this fan base. They’ve always had my back,” Johnson said in a statement put out by the Chiefs, who made the rare decision to announce publicly that Johnson would not be returning.

That in itself speaks volumes to how much Johnson has meant to the organization.

“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend 13 years in a place I love,” he said. “I plan on playing for several more years because I love the game so much, but I look forward to retiring as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs when my career is over.”

Johnson was the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2005, though his career got off to a rocky start. At one point early on, he found himself riding the bench, and was even labeled a bust.

But Johnson eventually earned his starting job back, and went on to appear in 182 games with 169 starts. He piled up 1,262 tackles to easily shatter the franchise record, had 27 1/2 sacks and picked off 14 passes, returning four of them for touchdowns.

He had a career-best 179 tackles in 2011, when he was voted the Chiefs’ team MVP.

“Few players in recent history have meant more to the Chiefs franchise and the Kansas City community than Derrick Johnson,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said.

“His tireless work ethic and passion for the game made him one of the most productive defensive players to ever wear a Chiefs uniform …read more

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