We already wrote about how difficult the Derrick Johnson question will be for the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, but more information regarding his situation came to light late Monday night, via salary cap expert Joel Corry.
Derrick Johnson's 2018 contract year voids on the last day of the 2017 league year (March 14). That was a part of the pay cut he took last March. https://t.co/VJ1mAk5Nrk— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) February 13, 2018
So what does that mean? It means the Chiefs don’t need to cut Johnson at all. If there is no agreement by March 14, the final day of this league year, he is an unrestricted free agent.
More from Corry:
There's going to be a $2.25M salary cap charge for the Chiefs after Derrick Johnson's 2018 contract year voids. It's signing bonus proration from his 2016 deal & 2017 renegotiation. https://t.co/B2ugNNlAEF— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) February 13, 2018
(Note: Correction from a previous version of this article): To my understanding, it is this number, $2.25 million, that would be the cap hit for Johnson whether they opt to keep him for 2018 or not, so it just becomes a matter of whether or not they believe he’s worth bringing back. Even more clarification on Johnson’s contract from Corry:
From Derrick Johnson's contract.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) February 13, 2018
32. 2018 VOIDABLE PROVISION
If Player is on Club's 90-Man Roster on the last day of the 2017 League Year, then Player's Contract for the 2018 League Year shall immediately become NULL AND VOID without further action by the parties. https://t.co/DsNEEHr4Bs
After the playoff loss to the Titans, the 35-year-old linebacker told reporters his career wasn’t over and he had a desire to remain with Kansas City.
“I’m definitely playing ball again,” he said. “That’s not a question. But it’s not the time to talk about where I am going to be playing. I’m a Chief. I’ve been in this league 13 years. Opportunities like this don’t come around a lot.”
The only question with his return is that during the final stretch of the 2017 regular season, Johnson was a part-time player, receiving between 60 and 75 percent of snaps.
That is still a hefty amount of time on the field for that small of a salary, but the final decision general manager Brett Veach makes will be based upon more factors than that, including free agency, the NFL Draft and how ready he and Andy Reid feel the younger players (namely Reggie Ragland and Kevin Pierre-Louis) are to take on an even bigger workload with Johnson no longer on the team.
I highly doubt any legacy factor comes into play for the 13-year Chief. For better or worse, it’s simply not how this regime operates.
There also is a final component to this that only Johnson can answer. If the Chiefs don’t want him, would he finish up his career elsewhere or retire?
As we’ve seen the last few years, anything is possible.