ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders agreed to a one-year deal Friday with veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson to bolster the middle of their defense.
Coach Jon Gruden said Johnson adds a presence to the defense that was needed.
"He brings us status at a critical position," Gruden said. "He's got a great history in this league, been productive under a lot of different coaches, different schemes. He understands the AFC West and certainly understands this rivalry. I'm really excited to add him to our team."
The 35-year-old Johnson spent his first 13 NFL seasons with the rival Kansas City Chiefs and will likely fill the role at middle linebacker that NaVorro Bowman played the second half of last season.
Johnson has been one of the better linebackers in the league during his career but was allowed to leave Kansas City earlier this offseason as the team tried to get younger.
Johnson is a four-time Pro Bowler and the career tackles leader for the Chiefs.
He appeared in 182 games with 169 starts since being drafted in the first round in 2005. He piled up 1,262 tackles to easily shatter the franchise record, had 27½ sacks and picked off 14 passes, returning four of them for touchdowns.
He had a career-best 179 tackles in 2011, when he was voted the Chiefs' team MVP.
Johnson piled up his impressive stats despite missing part of two seasons with ruptured Achilles tendons. He returned from the first one as good as ever, earning his most recent Pro Bowl trip in 2015, but the second seemed to finally take a step out of his legs this past season.
He had 48 tackles in 15 games last season but slowly lost playing time to younger teammates in the middle of the Kansas City defense.
The Raiders need an anchor in the middle of their defense. Bowman fared well in that role after being signed last October following his release by San Francisco. There was interest in bringing him back for a second season but the two sides couldn't agree on a price.
Oakland didn't address that need at linebacker in the draft until the sixth round last week with the pick of Washington linebacker Azeem Victor.
The Raiders also waived linebacker Cory James with a failed physical designation and cut defensive lineman Armonty Bryant with a non-football illness.