Lonnie Johnson trade is Chiefs’ latest low-risk roll of the dice

Kansas City Chiefs Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

At the reported cost, the trade for Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson was essentially a “why not?” transaction for the Kansas City Chiefs.

On Monday, NFL reporter Aaron Wilson noted that the Chiefs were being linked as a potential trade destination for Johnson following the completion of the 2022 NFL Draft. Minutes later, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport noted it was a done deal in exchange for a seventh-round pick—in 2024. Yes, as in two years from now.

If that sounds like very little to trade away, you would be correct. In NFL currency, it’s akin to finding a random penny on the floor and having someone offer you something for it. At that point, you’re almost shocked that anyone at all would even want to bother with it.

The latest low-risk roll of the dice taken by Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach is a trade for Lonnie Johnson.

For the Texans, it might be a positive notion that the Chiefs would be willing to give them anything at all for Johnson. When a team takes something so minuscule in a trade, it is because the team is likely resigned to losing that player for nothing. Getting anything of value is better than outright releasing Johnson, so clearly, the Chiefs are seizing the opportunity to control the market than fight another team for his services as a free agent.

For Chiefs Kingdom, this sort of deal should look familiar. The Chiefs have found a way to consistently lean on former top picks after experiencing less-than-impressive starts to their career in the hopes of unlocking something new. Most of the time, the player fails to perform up to the original draft expectations even with their new team, but the truth is the Chiefs give up so little in these deals that it doesn’t matter.

Last spring, the Chiefs swapped late-round picks with the Minnesota Vikings in order to secure Mike Hughes in the secondary for a single season. Hughes then found meaningful playing time in sub packages, provided depth at corner, and then found himself signing with the Detroit Lions in free agency.  Two years ago, the Chiefs signed a newly-released Deandre Baker from the New York Giants in hopes of striking gold with another former first-round pick.

Expectations for Johnson should remain low based on the price alone for the Chiefs. Think of how Reggie Ragland worked out or Cameron Erving or Martinas Rankin. All were first or second or third-round picks and all of them turned into role players at best for the Chiefs. But then again, that’s all the Chiefs need Johnson to be. L’Jarius Sneed is a starter and Trent McDuffie should slide into major reps as well as the team’s first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Rashad Fenton is also a productive player and Baker is still around.

Johnson will be highly motivated to show up and perform well for the Chiefs in a contract year. it’s also an opportunity to move from the NFl’s most dysfunctional franchise to a Super Bowl contender, which might bring about stronger play overall. And for the Chiefs, it cost nothing to see if a former second-round pick can contribute meaningful reps in a secondary that looks deep enough to start the season.

Next. AA writers grade the Chiefs draft class. dark