Johnson, who will become an unrestricted free agent March 14, said Wednesday in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that he would like to play "a couple more years." Though the Chiefs have already announced that they will void the linebacker's contract for 2018, Johnson isn't ready to cease pursuit of his first Super Bowl championship. The veteran noted that while he prefers to keep serving in a starting role regardless of where he lands this offseason, his main focus is to win a championship. If that's the case, Johnson may have to settle for a decreased role if he joins a playoff-contending club, given that he saw his productivity decline in his final year with the Chiefs. Over 15 regular-season appearances in 2017, Johnson tallied 71 tackles, his lowest output in the category for any season in which he has played at least 13 games since 2009.
The Chiefs announced Tuesday that Johnson would become an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires at the start of the new league year March 14. Johnson was owed $8 million in 2018, but based on the terms of the restructured deal the veteran linebacker agreed to last offseason, the Chiefs had the luxury of voiding his contract without any consequences. After registering only 71 tackles in 2017 -- his second-lowest total for any season in which he played at least 13 games -- Johnson, who has spent his entire 13-year career in Kansas City, may have to settle for a part-time role regardless of where he lands in free agency. The Chiefs, meanwhile, will have to find a new starter at inside linebacker alongside Reggie Ragland during the upcoming season.
Johnson said following the Chiefs' 22-21 AFC wild-card loss to the Titans on Saturday that he intends to play in the NFL in 2018, Sam McDowell of The Kansas City Star reports. "I'm definitely planning on playing ball again. That's not a question," Johnson said. "But it's not the time to talk, I guess, [about] where I'm going to be playing it." The 35-year-old Johnson, a 13-year NFL veteran and two-time All-Pro selection, shouldn't have trouble finding a job next season, but it's unclear if the career-long Chief will remain in Kansas City. The linebacker saw a slight decline in playing time in 2017 and the Chiefs are able to save $8 million against the salary cap by cutting Johnson, so it may not behoove the organization to retain him. Johnson wrapped up the regular season with 71 tackles, seven pass breakups and a forced fumble in 15 games.
Johnson will rest during Week 17's game against the Broncos, BJ Kissel of the Chiefs' official site reports. Johnson has accrued 71 tackles, seven pass breakups and one forced fumble through 15 games, and there's no reason to risk injury ahead of the playoffs. The Chiefs will instead deploy Kevin Pierre-Louis and Ramik Wilson to fill in at inside linebacker.
Johnson (Achilles) won't start training camp on the Chiefs' preseason Physically Unable to Perform list, James Palmer of NFL Network reports. Johnson, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon last December, is seemingly healthy enough to take part in camp, but don't be surprised if the Chiefs monitor the veteran's reps in training camp and the preseason. The 34-year-old accrued 90 stops and an interception in 13 games in 2016.