Most fans of the Oakland Raiders wanted to bring back NaVorro Bowman. They got Derrick Johnson.
The NFL community painted the signing as another addition to Jon Gruden’s “retirement home”. While it’s true Gruden has brought in some veterans, a common myth is that they’re washed up. That’s simply not true. Derrick Johnson is an example of a productive veteran.
Earlier this month, Johnson and the Raiders reached an agreement on a one-year, $1.5 million contract. The agreement seemed to put an end to fans hopes of a reunion with NaVorro Bowman. Johnson’s signing turned heads, considering he played the previous 13 years of his career, with the loathed Kansas City Chiefs.
Johnson was the 15th overall pick in the 2005 draft by KC. Along with punter Dustin Colquitt, Johnson was the longest tenured Chiefs player, surviving five head coaches and four general managers. Johnson is a four-time pro bowl selection and was a first-team All-Pro in 2011.
In week one of the 2014 season, Johnson tore his Achilles Tendon. He then suffered the same injury late in the 2016 season. Most critics of the addition of Johnson will point to those two injuries along with the fact he’s 36-years-old.
Despite coming off a torn Achilles Tendon for the second time, Johnson was able to suit up for 15 games last season. That proves he’s been able to make a full recovery, and his past injuries aren’t likely to affect his ability to stay on the field in 2018. Johnson tallied 48 tackles, which is lowest since 2009 (not counting 2014, injured). However, he assisted on 23 tackles, which is the third highest of his lengthy career. Johnson also feels he still has a lot left in the tank, per NBC Sports.
“I believe I can still play at a high level, and for me, my family and my legacy, I’m trying to figure out how can I chase that ring,” Johnson said. “Even though it’s a rival team, this is my best opportunity to chase a dream and play an important role. I have to go somewhere where there’s a plan for me, and that’s the Oakland Raiders.”
The Raiders drafted five defensive players in this year’s draft, to add to an already young defensive group and who better to mentor them than Johnson? As he is set to enter his 14th season, Johnson has played at least 13 games in every season of his career, barring 2014 when he tore his Achilles in the first game of the season.
Johnson has stayed out of trouble his entire career with no off-the-field issues to speak of. Former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn described him as the ultimate teammate, per SiriusXM.
“He’s a guy I think anyone would have been lucky to have,” Quinn said on the SiriusXM Blitz. “And, to be quite honest with you, in my opinion, you could put him in any scheme and I think he was going to be productive. He was just that type of athlete, that type of talent and he had that sort of football IQ.”
Quinn mentions how Johnson can be productive in any scheme. Johnson went through lots of coaching changes during his time in Kansas City, but his production remained constant.
Everyone knows the atmosphere Gruden is going to set for the Raiders locker room. Johnson is the perfect veteran to help cultivate a new era for the Silver and Black.
Johnson will not only be a helpful presence on the field, but he will help groom the youngsters below him. This makes is $1.5 million contract a steal for the Raiders. While Bowman could do much of the same, albeit it would be at a much steeper price, around $5 million. The small contract for Johnson has the Raiders in a low-risk-high-reward position, a rare occurrence in the NFL.