On Tuesday, the Chiefs managed to keep one team icon — Tamba Hali — in the fold, and on Wednesday, they retained another, agreeing to a multiyear deal with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, a source told The Star.
The deal is worth $21 million over three years, the source said.
By retaining Johnson, the Chiefs will hold on to a team leader and one of their two longest-tenured players (a title Johnson shares with punter Dustin Colquitt).
After missing 15 games in 2014 because of a ruptured Achilles, Johnson bounced back in a big way last season, recording 116 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions in 16 games while breaking Gary Spani’s all-time club tackle record, which had stood for 36 years.
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Still, the stat that is perhaps most indicative of Johnson’s positive presence is a team mark. With Johnson — who was chosen one of the Chiefs’ two defensive team captains, along with emotional leader Eric Berry — back on the field, the Chiefs improved from 28th in rushing defense in 2014 to eighth last year.
Johnson is listed at 6 feet 3 and 242 pounds, but in recent years he has remained spry by keeping his weight in the 230-pound range. This has allowed him to maintain his superior speed and quickness, which allows him to squirt under and around blockers to rack up tackles.
The deal likely assures Johnson, the club’s first-round pick in 2005, will end his career as a Chief.
That’s something the four-time Pro Bowler has long said he’d like to see happen.
“I’m a Chief — I’m a Chief at heart,” Johnson said at the end of the season. “The offseason is here now, but we’ll figure all that out. But I’m a Chief.”