Derrick Johnson has spent more than a decade as a Raiders rival. The longtime Kansas City Chief is reportedly switching allegiance.
The 35-year old middle linebacker agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Silver and Black, NFL Network reported on Friday morning.
That addresses a need unfilled during last week’s NFL draft, when the Raiders didn’t take a linebacker until the sixth round.
Johnson provides instant leadership, football smarts and veteran savvy to the linebacker corps, though his athleticism has waned some. He suffered his second Achilles’ tendon tear in three seasons during a 2016 victory over the Raiders, and he didn’t show the same range last season.
He visited the Raiders facility on Thursday to meet with coaches and personnel staff.
Johnson can still help a position previously manned by second-year pros Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow, who would’ve formed a platoon at middle linebacker if help didn’t arrive.
Johnson has long been a three-down linebacker, though his exact role with the Raiders remains uncertain. Head coach Jon Gruden will be available to the media Friday afternoon following a rookie minicamp practice at the team’s Alameda complex.
Johnson had 70 tackles and a sack last season, but remained strong in coverage. Passers had a 77.0 rating when targeting Johnson’s man.
The four-time Pro Bowler will join a linebacker corps featuring free-agent signings Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur.
Johnson’s addition could mean the end of a fruitless pursuit to re-sign Navorro Bowman. The veteran played well after signing with the Raiders – the 49ers cut him after Week 5 – but didn’t deem contract offers satisfactory.
The Raiders wanted to re-sign Bowman before free agency began, but couldn’t agree on terms. His agent met with the team at the NFL owners meetings in late March, but a pact wasn’t reached and he remains on the open market.