Johnson spent the first 13 years of his NFL career with the Chiefs, who selected him with the 15th overall pick in the 2005 draft. The 35-year-old Texas native's resume includes four Pro Bowl selections and a First Team All-Pro nod in 2011.
He racked up 71 combined tackles, seven passes defended and a forced fumble across 15 appearances last season. Pro Football Focus graded him as the league's No. 33 linebacker.
The Chiefs announced in February they didn't plan to re-sign the veteran defender and included a statement from chairman and CEO Clark Hunt:
"Few players in recent history have meant more to the Chiefs franchise and the Kansas City community than Derrick Johnson. 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."
Meanwhile, the Raiders have embraced an old-school philosophy since hiring new head coach Jon Gruden, who returned to the organization in January after previously coaching the team from 1998 through 2001.
Gruden commented on how the sport has changed and his desire to bring it back to its roots during a February interview with S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated:
"The state of the game? We have to put a GPS in Bobby's shoulder pad to see if he's working too hard. We stop a high school game in Florida three times every half to give 'em a water break. We run a zone-read every play in college—don't even block the defensive end; we read him—because players can't push themselves. It's too risky; somebody had an episode six years ago. …Anyway, the Lord sees these gods and says, 'We've got a problem with football. I need you guys to go back to earth and fix this.'"
Johnson fits the mold as a hard-nosed linebacker who found a way to make an impact despite a role that changed several times in Kansas City. He succeeded whether asked to play on the outside or inside.
He'd likely slot in as the team's starter ahead of Cory James on the weak side if he signs with Oakland.
It could also add another layer to the AFC West rivalry between the Raiders and Chiefs after Kansas City drafted Kahlil McKenzie—the son of Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie—in the sixth round of the 2018 draft.