Soon-to-be former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson joined Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio Wednesday morning after the Tuesday announcement that the team would let him become a free agent on March 14.
Johnson, who has spent the last 13 years with the Chiefs, reiterated on the program that it is his intention to continue playing for years to come.
“The fire still burns in me to make big plays, to help out young guys around me, to be that general where you’re setting up everything,” Johnson said. “Knowing the defense, making sure you anticipate to make plays and being that guy that the coach says, ‘This guy’s expectation is higher than what the coaches put on him, which is a big deal.
“When that goes down, I’ll get out of the league, but right now, I still want to play, so I’m still going to pursue trying to win a championship, because that’s all I’m playing for now.”
Johnson said he first learned about the Chiefs’ direction after the season when he talked to general manager Brett Veach. Because of that conversation, the news Tuesday was no surprise.
“His mind was made up,” Johnson said. “They already had a game plan of what they wanted to do with me and I bought out my last year—I didn’t really have a contract with the Chiefs, so if I wanted to do another year with the Chiefs, we’d have to negotiate and work on something, and of course, I would have bended a lot just to stay there.”
The Chiefs were not interested, and though the 34-year-old Johnson said hearing that news was tough, he felt the organization handled the situation with class.
“They gave me a lot of respect by coming to me, telling me what was their game plan,” he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t in the game plan but they at least gave me that respect: ‘Hey this is what we’re doing. We’re going young,’ of course, but [they] appreciated everything I did for Kansas City and what I brought to table. My hat’s off to Kansas City and the organization. They do a great job handling their players and handling their situations.
“But trust me. I wish I could stay in Kansas City.”
And though he won’t be there to see the youth movement of the Reggie Raglands and the Ukeme Eligwes develop, he’s optimistic in the immediate future of the club having been in the locker room and knowing what the Chiefs now have at their disposal.
“The Chiefs are on the rise with a young quarterback, with the young players they have there,” he said. “They’re going to do great. They’re in the right direction. The only regret I have in Kansas City is I didn’t bring a championship there during my tenure. That’s one thing that hurts, when you think about that.
“Other than that, I’ve had some great times in Kansas City.”