Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson didn’t hesitate in joining the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders.
After 13 seasons with the Chiefs, Johnson said he felt it “was the best opportunity” to join the Raiders and he credited new coach Jon Gruden for that.
“He was a big pull in me coming here and visiting and talking to the coaching staff,” Johnson said this week. “It just went off well. Oakland had the best plan for me at my age that I’m at now.”
The four-time Pro Bowler will be 36 in November and said he has plenty to prove, and he shared that with Gruden.
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“The main reason I’m still playing ball and chasing a championship ring just because I believe I have a lot left in the tank,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in some type of rebuilding atmosphere. As soon as I said that, he had that look in his eye like, ‘You’re talking about the sense of urgency to win.’ That’s exactly right. As soon as he said that, I said, ‘Yes, that’s what I want. My timing, I want to win now. We’re on the same page.”
The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Johnson was selected in the first round (15th overall) in the 2005 NFL draft. He has 1,151 tackles, 27 1/2 sacks and 14 interceptions. In 2016, Johnson tore his Achilles in a 21-13 victory against the Raiders.
He arrived in Alameda on Monday and has been working out with his new teammates.
“At my age, you have to be more specific as far as game-planning and actually being a part of winning,” he said. “Being a part of winning and Jon Gruden, his tenacity and intense motivation. His mental aspect of the game is off the roof. When he told me about that plan and he told me about the plan he had for me, I had to jump on it.”
Raiders’ key dates
Organized Team Activity (OTA) workouts: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7
Mandatory mini-camp: June 12-14