Raiders add linebacker, leader in Derrick Johnson

Updated May 4, 2018 - 6:40 pm

ALAMEDA, Calif. — First, it was NaVorro Bowman. Now, it’s Derrick Johnson.

For the second time in seven months, the Raiders added a veteran linebacker who previously spent the entirety of his decorated career with a rival. Bowman joined the Raiders after seven-plus seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. On Friday, Johnson agreed to a one-year contract after a 13-year run with the Kansas City Chiefs, a source said.

Johnson, 35, becomes the oldest player on the Raiders’ roster. He is a four-time Pro Bowler who has started 169 of 182 career games with 1,151 tackles, 27½ sacks, 14 interceptions and 22 forced fumbles.

Off the field, Johnson was highly regarded for his impact in the Kansas City community and locker room. Raiders coach Jon Gruden was aware of such attributes from his broadcasting career with ESPN. He also is close friends with Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

“I’ve known Derrick awhile,” Gruden said. “I think he brings us status at a critical position. He’s got a great history in this league. He’s been productive under a lot of different coaches, different schemes. He understands the AFC West. He certainly understands this rivalry. … Getting a guy like Derrick Johnson could be huge for us.”

In October, Bowman joined the Raiders on a one-year contract. The team hopes the investment in Johnson proves as fruitful. Bowman offered needed leadership to the position while recording 89 tackles, a total tied for the team lead despite having missed the first six games.

Johnson visited the Raiders on Thursday. He is their latest veteran addition under Gruden.

Of the 18 players on the roster who are 29 or older, 14 were signed since March.

Two defenders cut

Cory James pushed through pain last year before a knee injury required season-ending surgery. Health will keep him away in 2018.

The Raiders waived the linebacker Friday with a failed physical. He was one of two defenders cut, as defensive end Armonty Bryant’s contract was terminated because of a nonfootball illness. Further information on both players’ status was not immediately available.

Notable

— As expected, fourth-round pick Nick Nelson was a spectator during Friday’s start to rookie minicamp. The former Wisconsin cornerback is about three weeks into a six-week recovery timetable for a torn meniscus.

— Undrafted rookie Eddy Pineiro was absent from minicamp for undisclosed reasons. The former Florida kicker is expected to compete with incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio for a job this offseason. “We thought about drafting him, honestly, and we’re happy to have him as a free agent,” Gruden said.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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