Linebacker Derrick Johnson had a rough year after coming back from another injury and the question is if he will be a Chief next year?
There are questions for many name players on whether not they will make the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is one of them. The Kansas City Chiefs would save $8 million by cutting Johnson this offseason. For a team that is struggling against the cap for next year, this looks like an easy move to free up some money.
The 35-year-old linebacker saw a decline in snaps this season after coming back from another ACL tear. Newly acquired linebackers Reggie Ragland and Kevin Pierre-Louis started getting more snaps as the season went on and proved themselves within the system.
It seemed obvious that Johnson had lost a step physically and mentally when he came back. There were still some flashes of the old Johnson, like the punishing hit on Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota on Saturday, but overall he wasn’t the same, hitting his fewest tackles since 2009.
When going back and watching the film, Johnson too often hesitates and ends up either taking the wrong hole or being late to get there. He’s also been taking some bad angles to the ball carrier resulting in the running back getting around him. The issues were not just physical, but mental.
This conversation is still very hard to have as a Chiefs fan. The 2005 draft pick has been one of the big names on the defense and leads the franchise in tackles. He has been the key player on that side of the ball for so long that it hurts to think about a time he won’t be there. However, I think it’s time that we see Johnson go.
Following the gut-wrenching loss to the Titans on Saturday night, Johnson made comments about playing next year. The question that stood out was if this game made an impact on his decision career wise. Here was his response.
"“No, I’ll go back to Texas and be with my kids and chill out a little bit. I’m definitely playing ball again. That’s not a question. But it’s not the time to talk about where I am going to be playing. I’m a Chief. I’ve been in this league 13 years. Opportunities like this don’t come around a lot.”"
It’s very clear that he wants to play another year whether that be with the Chiefs or not. I’m sure that we could see another restructure of his contract like last offseason but it depends on how much. The Chiefs have some good linebackers ready to take on more snaps and fill those roles. The only question in my mind is if the Chiefs will restructure him just for his leadership on the defense?