Derrick Johnson (LB)

Chiefs Not Considering Derrick Johnson

Derrick Johnson is back on the free agent pile after securing his release from the Raiders. However, the Chiefs’ all-time leading tackler will not be returning to Kansas City.

We haven’t talked about that…That’s not the direction we’re going,” coach Andy Reid said when asked about the possibility of re-signing the veteran linebacker (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher).

Jon Gruden loves his veterans, and he appeared to be over the moon after signing Johnson in the spring. Things didn’t work out as planned, however, as Johnson played just 152 total snaps through six games. With all due respect to Marquel Lee and Tahir Whitehead, that’s not a strong endorsement of the 35-year-old’s skills.

The Chiefs certainly have their weaknesses on defense, but they allowed Johnson to walk for a reason. Barring a change in thinking, Johnson will not get an opportunity to contribute to his 938 solo tackles or his 27.5 sacks in a Chiefs uniform.

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Raiders Release LB Derrick Johnson

The Raiders announced that they have released linebacker Derrick Johnson. In a related move, the club has signed fellow ‘backer Jason Cabinda off the practice squad. 

[RELATED: Raiders Seeking First Rounder For Amari Cooper?]

Johnson, the leading tackler in Chiefs history, joined up with Jon Gruden‘s Raiders this offseason. Many criticized Gruden’s preference for signing older players this year, and the 35-year-old is one of several veterans who have not panned out in Oakland.

I still have a fire burning. I can still play at a high level, and I want to prove that.” Johnson said after signing with the Raiders in May. “That [response] made [Gruden’s] eyeballs jump, because he’s got a lot to prove, too. There was an environment in the room that was very contagious. I knew a deal would happen after I left..I’m one of Gruden’s favorite players — he’s always had a soft spot for me. He’s always said that over the years.”

The veteran boasts four Pro Bowl nods and a First-Team All-Pro selection on his resume, so he might be able to hook on elsewhere. Still, he’s clearly not the player that he once was. Despite amassing more than 2,600 tackles since entering the league as a first round choice in 2005, he has just 17 tackles to his credit through six games this year.

Johnson requested his release from the team, a source tells Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal (on Twitter). The Raiders first tried to trade him, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), but they were unable to find a suitable deal.

So far, linebacker Marquel Lee has gotten the brunt of the reps at linebacker, and he’ll continue to do so with Johnson out of the picture. Cabinda, a rookie, may also factor into the equation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Shopping Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph

11:34am: The Raiders are also looking to deal wideout Amari Cooper, per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (video link). Vic Tafur of The Athletic explains that it makes sense for the Raiders to be shopping Cooper now (via Twitter), because he will be on the last year of his rookie deal in 2019, and it looks as though Oakland is priming for a multi-year rebuild. And if Gruden traded Mack when he thought the team couldn’t contend, it stands to reason that he would be willing to trade Cooper as well.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out that Mack, Joseph, and Cooper are all represented by the same agent, Joel Segal, and it could be that the team’s willingness to trade those players is motivated at least in part by its unwillingness to negotiate with the man who won a stare down with Gruden during the Mack negotiations.

08:52am: When the Raiders hired Jon Gruden in January, it became immediately clear that seventh-year GM Reggie McKenzie and the club would be parting ways in the near future. After all, the Raiders made an enormous commitment to Gruden while giving him a significant amount of McKenzie’s power over roster construction, so the writing has been on the wall for some time. And, despite the fact that Gruden’s evaluation methods have created tension within the team’s personnel department, he is continuing his mission to rid the roster of talent that he inherited from McKenzie, which he has clearly been unhappy with.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Raiders are shopping 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph, who has struggled with injuries during his brief career. La Canfora says that Joseph, who sat out the past two games with a hamstring injury, has also fallen out of favor with Oakland’s new staff.

Of course, Joseph’s senior year at West Virginia was cut short by a knee injury, and many teams placed a second- or third-round grade on him as a result. But the Raiders, then led by McKenzie, believed enough in Joseph’s talent to make him the No. 14 overall selection in the 2016 draft, and while he has certainly not played poorly with the Raiders, he has not exactly lived up to his draft status either. As such, it is unlikely the Raiders would be able to get much for him, especially as he is entering the most expensive year(s) of his rookie deal.

The Raiders have already tried to cut ties with Joseph’s fellow safety, 2017 second-rounder Obi Melifonwu, who is currently on IR but who has probably played his last down for Oakland. La Canfora also says that the team is willing to trade veteran Derrick Johnson, whom Gruden brought in to serve as Oakland’s starting middle linebacker this offseason. Johnson, who will turn 36 next month, is obviously not a part of the Raiders’ future plans.

Gruden has already shown a willingness to part with top-flight talent when he traded Khalil Mack before the start of the regular season, and La Canfora says that Gruden could soon be shopping another one of McKenzie’s prized draft picks, quarterback Derek Carr. The CBS scribe writes that a growing number of GMs believe Gruden could entertain offers for Carr in 2019, and it appears that the team will certainly be one of the busiest over the next couple of weeks, as the trade deadline looms on October 30.

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West Notes: 49ers, Hawks, Raiders, Chiefs

Before signing Mike Person earlier today, the 49ers also worked out veteran offensive linemen Oday Aboushi, Josh LeRibeus, and Brian Schwenke, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). San Francisco was clearly on the lookout for an experienced lineman capable of playing multiple spots along the interior, and Person won the job. Each of Aboushi, LeRibeus, and Schwenke boast at least one season of regular starting work, but none have generated any known interest to this point in the offseason. If the 49ers are in need of more center/guard as the year progresses, however, it’s fair to assume they’ll circle back to these same candidates.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have both denied that Seattle is entering a full-scale rebuild, and the club’s meeting with veteran wideout Brandon Marshall only verifies that stance, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. While the Seahawks have shed a mass of talent this offseason by releasing or trading stalwarts such as Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril, the club doesn’t intend to sacrifice its intention to compete. Marshall, of course, hasn’t been productive since 2015, but he’d add a physical element to a wide receiving depth chart that includes Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jaron Brown.
  • Linebacker Derrick Johnson rebuffed offers from two-to-three other clubs in order to sign with the Raiders, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Johnson, 35, reiterated that the opportunity to play for head coach Jon Gruden played a large role in his decision to join Oakland’s squad, where he is expected to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme for the first time in his career. The Raiders have made multiple additions to the second level of their defense, adding Tahir Whitehead, Emmanuel Lamur, and Kyle Wilber in addition to Johnson. As such, it’s becoming clear that fellow linebacker NaVorro Bowman is unlikely to return to the Bay Area.
  • Byron Maxwell‘s new deal with the Seahawks has a base value of $2MM, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The veteran cornerback, who is now in his second stint with Seattle, will collect a $950K base salary, a $500K signing bonus, a $100K roster bonus paid if he makes the Seahawks’ 53-man roster, and up to $450K in per-game roster bonuses. Maxwell looks like the clear favorite to start at outside corner opposite Shaquill Griffin, but he’ll be pushed by Justin Coleman and free agent addition Dontae Johnson.
  • The Chiefs announced that they’ve promoted Mike Borgonzi to director of football operations. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com points out (Twitter link), Borgonzi will now take over the position manned by Chris Ballard before he became the Colts’ general manager, meaning the former should now be viewed as a future GM candidate. Kansas City also promoted Ryan Poles to assistant director of player personnel and named Ryne Nutt director of college scouting.

Raiders Officially Sign LB Derrick Johnson

It’s officially official. On Monday, the Raiders announced the signing of Derrick Johnson. As previously reported, it’s a one-year deal for Oakland and the former Chiefs linebacker.

The Chiefs announced earlier this offseason that they would not be re-signing the 13-year NFL veteran. The market was slow to develop for Johnson and although he had interest from other clubs, the Raiders were the only team to bring him in for a visit. Over the weekend, Johnson explained that his continued passion for the game prompted Jon Gruden to offer him a contract.

I still have a fire burning. I can still play at a high level, and I want to prove that.” Johnson said. “That [response] made [Gruden’s] eyeballs jump, because he’s got a lot to prove, too. There was an environment in the room that was very contagious. I knew a deal would happen after I left..I’m one of Gruden’s favorite players — he’s always had a soft spot for me. He’s always said that over the years.”

In a league that is getting increasingly younger, the Raiders have more players over the age of 29 than any other in the NFL. Like many of this year’s free agent additions in Oakland, Johnson is out to prove that he still has quality football left in the tank. He’ll celebrate his 35th birthday in November.

To make room for Johnson, the Raiders waived cornerback Darius Hillary. Hillary joined Oakland on a futures deal in January.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Derrick Johnson On Joining The Raiders

Derrick Johnson has accomplished a great deal in his 13-year career. Since the Chiefs made him the No. 15 overall pick in the 2005 draft, Johnson has picked up four Pro Bowl nods and one first-team All-Pro selection, and he now stands as Kansas City’s all-time leading tackler. In February, though, the Chiefs told him they would not be re-signing him, and just two days ago, he signed with the division-rival Raiders

Johnson has never been a headline grabber, but he has been a highly-respected defender and leader and a model of quiet consistency. Shortly after signing his one-year pact with Oakland, Johnson discussed his decision to join the silver-and-black and what the future holds as he enters the twilight of his career. Here are some highlights (via Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports):

On his meeting with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden:

Johnson says when he met with Gruden — although he spoke with other clubs, the Raiders were the only team to have him in for a visit — Gruden asked him why he still wanted to play. Johnson replied, “I still have a fire burning. I can still play at a high level, and I want to prove that.” He said, “That [response] made [Gruden’s] eyeballs jump, because he’s got a lot to prove, too. There was an environment in the room that was very contagious. I knew a deal would happen after I left.” Johnson added, “I’m one of Gruden’s favorite players — he’s always had a soft spot for me. He’s always said that over the years.”

On the Raiders’ prospects in 2018:

The Raiders have been maligned in some circles because they have loaded up on players on the wrong side of 30 this offseason, but that does indicate to Johnson that Oakland is planning to compete in 2018. He said, “I’m not playing for a rebuilding-type year. I sensed an urgency from Coach Gruden that winning is important right now.”

On his role with the Raiders:

Johnson may not earn a starting job, but he will be a valuable depth piece who could take on a larger role if need be. He said Gruden “wants me to help the young guys, be a leader and step right in and help the guys on and off the field.” As Paylor notes, Johnson could be a positive influence for gifted-but-troubled edge rusher Arden Key, whom the Raiders selected in the third round of this year’s draft.

On why he chose the Raiders:

“I believe I can still play at a high level, and for me, my family and my legacy, I’m trying to figure out how can I chase that ring. Even though it’s a rival team, this is my best opportunity to chase a dream and play an important role. I have to go somewhere where there’s a plan for me, and that’s the Oakland Raiders.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Sign LB Derrick Johnson

For the first time in his NFL career, Derrick Johnson will suit up for a team other than the Chiefs. The veteran linebacker has agreed to terms with the Raiders, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (on Twitter). The news was first reported by Michael Silver of the NFL Network (on Twitter). It’s a one-year deal, per the Review-Journal’s Michael Gehlken (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Redskins’ Bruce Allen Won’t Join Raiders]

Johnson may not be the player that he once was, but last season the 35-year-old still showed that he has something left in the tank. He also offers a great deal of experience and boasts four Pro Bowl nods and a First-Team All-Pro selection on his resume.

The Chiefs announced this offseason that they would not be re-signing Johnson, their all-time leading tackler. Since entering the league as a first round choice in 2005, Johnson has appeared in 182 games and amassed 1,262 career tackles.

The Raiders currently project to start Bruce IrvinTahir Whitehead, and Cory James at linebacker. It’s not clear whether Johnson will be given an opportunity to crack the starting lineup, but he could be a valuable depth piece and a mentor to younger players in the front seven.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Meet With Derrick Johnson

Former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson will visit with the Raiders on Thursday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Chiefs announced in February that they will not re-sign Johnson, though they have a standing offer to him to join the coaching staff if he does not play in 2018. 

After 13 seasons with the Chiefs, it will take some getting used to if Johnson winds up in silver and black. Johnson, 35, is the Chiefs’ all-time leading tackler, with 1,262 career stops to his credit. Since entering the league as a first round pick in 2005, Johnson has suited up in 182 games for Kansas City with 169 starts.

Johnson is obviously past his prime, but Raiders coach Jon Gruden has shown an affinity for signing experienced veterans. The linebacker, who has four Pro Bowl nods and a First-Team All-Pro selection on his resume, still performed reasonably well in 2017 as he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 33 linebacker in the NFL. Johnson doesn’t necessarily profile as a starter, but he could be a valuable depth piece who can also mentor younger defensive players.

The Raiders project to start Bruce Irvin, Tahir Whitehead, and Cory James at linebacker in their 4-3 scheme.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Landry, Hitchens, Bills

The Dolphins are attempting to trade wide receiver Jarvis Landry after assigning him the franchise tag last week, but the club probably shouldn’t expect a first-round pick for their slot receiver, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Instead, fair compensation is likely to be a third-round pick, a low second-rounder, or perhaps a player, multiple sources tell Salguero. Landry can be an effective weapon, but any team that acquires him is either committing to carrying his $16MM+ salary in 2018, or inking him to a new deal, so Miami isn’t likely to get blown away in terms of trade offers. The Dolphins were expected to meet with Landry’s representatives at the combine on Wednesday, so a resolution could be coming soon.

Here’s more on 2018 free agency:

  • Cowboys free agent linebacker Anthony Hitchens is seeking $10MM per year on the open market, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Dallas ranks in the bottom-third of the league in available cap space, so that price point could force Hitchens out of the club’s range. Indeed, multiple beat writers don’t believe Hitchens will re-sign with the Cowboys, while the Colts — who now employ former Dallas linebackers coach Matt Eberflus — are expected to pursue the 25-year-old. A fourth-round pick out of Iowa in 2014, Hitchens appeared in 12 games a season ago and registered 55 tackles.
  • Although the Bills inked veteran defensive back Vontae Davis to a one-year deal earlier this week, they’re not giving up hope of re-signing free agent cornerback E.J. Gaines, general manager Brandon Beane told reporters, including Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (Twitter link). Buffalo acquired Gaines in 2017 as part of the return for wideout Sammy Watkins, and the 26-year-old went on to start 11 games, ranking 11th in the league in yards per pass. He’s expected to garner at least $6MM annually on the open market.
  • While new Lions head coach Matt Patricia has a clear working relationship with free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler, Detroit is more likely to fill its secondary needs internally, said general manager Bob Quinn (link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). Given that they may need to replace both Nevin Lawson and D.J. Hayden (and find a new slot corner with Quandre Diggs moving to safety), the Lions will likely give opportunities to 2017 rookies Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew. “We drafted those guys for a reason last year, and when we evaluated them in the postseason process, we liked what they did and their role,” said Quinn.
  • Veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez didn’t attempt a single pass for the Bears last season, but Chicago could nonetheless be open to a reunion. “You know, he did a good job this year,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. “All the things we value with him: his veteran leadership and his experiences. Again he’s a free agent; those are all evaluations that are ongoing.” Chicago doesn’t have a backup for Mitch Trubisky on its current roster after announcing its intent to release Mike Glennon earlier today.
  • If linebacker Derrick Johnson doesn’t land a new deal on the open market, he has a standing to return to the Chiefs as a coach, head coach Andy Reid told reporters, including Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). The Chiefs recently announced that they won’t re-sign the 35-year-old, but Johnson still wants to continue his career. Johnson is highly respected for his locker room presence, so it’s no surprise Reid would want the veteran defender on staff if his playing career is over.

Extra Points: Carrie, Foster, Johnson, Tags

Two of the top wide receivers expected to be available on this year’s UFA market may not be locks to leave their previous teams. The Jaguars and Rams face decisions on Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins, respectively, and Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com expects both wideouts to be franchise-tagged by the March deadline. The Jags have both Robinson and Marqise Lee as free agent WRs, and Robinson has posted the best season of any wideout in this UFA class. But the 24-year-old pass-catcher’s 2015 campaign (80 receptions, 1,400 yards, 14 touchdown catches) thus far serves as the outlier, and Robinson didn’t have a chance to rebound from a lesser 2016 slate (73/883/6) — albeit with a worse Blake Bortles showing that year — on it after going down in Week 1.

Watkins being tagged would be notable since the Rams also have Lamarcus Joyner as a tag candidate. Joyner may be the best safety on the market, if he reaches free agency. The Rams also have an Aaron Donald contract to prepare for, so it’s a complicated offseason for the reigning NFC West champs. The receiver tag is expected to come in at $16.2MM, and Watkins’ L.A. work thus far would not justify that price. That could also complicate matters for the Jags, who have Bortles’ fifth-year number of $19MM set to vest come March. A Robinson tag would add a considerable figure to the Jacksonville payroll.

As teams continue to prepare for the Combine and free agency, here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Derrick Johnson confirmed on Instagram he will not be back with the Chiefs next season. This news emerged earlier this week and will conclude a 13-season run for Johnson, who will end his Kansas City career as one of the franchise’s best defenders. However, Johnson wants to play a 14th season. The 35-year-old linebacker may have regressed a bit but could be an interesting fit for a linebacker-needy team on a one-year deal.
  • The 49ers spoke to Reuben Foster in person and by phone this week, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. The linebacker is being investigated for an alleged domestic violence incident, leading to his second arrest of the offseason, that occurred last weekend.
  • Despite his Raiders contract having expired, T.J. Carrie met with the new Silver and Black coaching staff this week, Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Carrie functioned as a full-time starter with Oakland last season. The Raiders released David Amerson earlier this month and could well move on from Sean Smith free of charge soon. Pro Football Focus’ No. 22 corner in 2017, Carrie is coming off his best season and would be an interesting name to on the market. But the former seventh-round pick told Kawahara he would like to stay with the Raiders. “I’m a hometown kid. I’m a Bay Area kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else than Oakland,” Carrie said. “… I’ve loved and I’ve dreamed of playing for the Raiders for such a long time. And now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish there.”
  • The Lions hired Erik Kunttu to run their video operations department, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. This hire proves interesting because it adds to an unusual pipeline. Counting Matt Patricia, there are now seven members of the 2018 Lions’ staff who were on the 2001 Syracuse staff, per Meinke. Patricia spent three seasons serving as an offensive graduate assistant at the then-Big East program, and then-Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni will join Patricia in guiding the Detroit defense.