The Kansas City Chiefs are parting ways with one of their modern day franchise icons, as longtime linebacker Derrick Johnson will be allowed to test free agency when his contract expires on March 14, the Chiefs announced Tuesday.
Johnson, a four-time Pro Bowler, has played his entire 13-year career in Kansas City since being drafted 15th overall in 2005 out of Texas University.
"Few players in recent history have meant more to the Chiefs franchise and the Kansas City community than Derrick Johnson," Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. "His tireless work ethic and passion for the game made him one of the most productive defensive players to ever wear a Chiefs uniform and one of the most respected players both in our locker room and around the league. Over the last 13 seasons, Derrick represented himself and the Chiefs organization with integrity and class, and he will always be a part of our Chiefs family."
The 35-year-old is the Chiefs' all-time leading tackler with 1,262. He's also amassed 27.5 sacks and 14 interceptions to this point in his career.
"I plan on playing for several more years because I love this game so much, but I look forward to retiring as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs when my career is over," Johnson said. "I'll miss my Chiefs teammates -- we made a lot of big plays together over the years -- and I wish them the best in bringing a championship home to the best and loudest fans in the NFL."
Johnson played 845 snaps in 2017 and will surely have suitors on the open market looking to add a veteran on defense. Despite being one of the top linebackers in the NFL in his prime, Johnson has never advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs. It wouldn't be surprising if he signs with a Super Bowl contender to improve his chances of finally winning a title. Johnson's impending free agency has left the team's fan base heartbroken, and the organization will suffer financial repercussions, as well.
The Chiefs, despite enjoying significant regular season success over the past five seasons, have choked every year in the postseason. This is prompting a youth movement for the organization this offiseason, which started by reportedly trading veteran quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. However, the move can't be made official until the new year officially begins on March 14.
Kansas City's last Super Bowl title came way back in 1969.
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