The Chiefs are negotiating to keep veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link). For his part, Johnson says his agent has only spoken with Kansas City, but per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link), Johnson’s rep has in fact talked with other clubs.
“It’s heating up,” Johnson told Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “It’s going to come down to the wire.” Johnson did add that he’s more optimistic now that he’ll be able to reach a deal to remain with the Chiefs for a 12th consecutive year.
Johnson, 33, hasn’t been linked to any other clubs, but the Chiefs have reportedly been “poking around” fellow free agent linebacker Jerrell Freeman as possible replacement in case Johnson departs. Johnson ranked as PFR’s No. 46 overall free agent and No. 4 inside linebacker, behind Danny Trevathan, Freeman, and Roland McClain, the latter of whom has already re-signed with the Cowboys.
In his 11th season with Kansas City, Johnson started all 16 games just one season after missing nearly the entire year with a torn Achilles. He posted 95 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions, grading out as the league’s eighth-best linebacker, per Pro Football Focus.