Derrick Johnson Re-Signs with Chiefs: Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2016

Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) celebrates a play against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of their NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

Derrick Johnson has been a stalwart for the Kansas City Chiefs since he entered the league in 2005, and he may well end his career in Kansas City.

In a text to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Johnson confirmed that he re-signed with the team:

ESPN's Adam Caplan reported the deal will be worth $21 million over three years and includes $9 million guaranteed.

Johnson had another strong season in 2015, leading Kansas City in tackles (116) while also intercepting two passes and recording four sacks. Those numbers were enough to earn the former Texas Longhorns star a fourth trip to the Pro Bowl.

Although he reeled off three straight Pro Bowl appearances from 2011 to 2013, there were some question marks around Johnson this time last year. He suffered an Achilles rupture in the first game of the 2014 season.

An Achilles tear is a major injury, all the more so for a player who had already spent nine years in the NFL. The Kansas City Star's Vahe Gregorian drew attention to a study by researchers at Duke University that concluded "only two-thirds of National Football League players ever come back, and those who do find their performance significantly affected."

Johnson spoke to Gregorian about how Eric Berry's battle with Hodgkin lymphoma provided him with a different perspective on his situation:

It let me know how important life was. And how what I was going through wasn't anything. It was nothing at all. When it comes to the big scheme of things of life, for him to go through that, I can surely go through an Achilles injury. That's why I say he stands tall. Everybody looks at him and says, 'I can do it'—meaning whatever my situation is, I can do it.

Not only did Johnson recover enough to return to the field this year, but he also hardly even lost a step, making him even more of a medical marvel. Pro Football Focus graded him the eighth-best linebacker in the NFL, which earned him at least one more nice payday before his playing career ends.

Speaking after the Chiefs' playoff exit in January, Johnson indicated he didn't want to play elsewhere.

"I haven't really thought about it much, but you know, I'm a Chief—I'm a Chief at heart," he said, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. "The offseason is here now, but we’ll figure all that out. But I’m a Chief."

The Chiefs weren't in dire financial straits with regard to the salary cap, but whether they'd be able to re-sign Johnson was a major question mark.

Few Chiefs fans will argue with re-signing Johnson, though. It would be great to see him begin and end his career with the franchise, and beyond that sentimentality, he remains a productive linebacker in the NFL.