KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Linebacker Derrick Johnson owns the hearts and minds of many Chiefs fans already, but he earned even more admiration last month when he agreed to slash his 2017 salary to create valuable room for the salary cap-strapped team.
“I’m a Chief so at the end of the day, not telling details, but I want to help out the team as much as I can,” Johnson said during the team’s first day of offseason workouts.
Johnson’s restructured contract converted a $1 million roster bonus into a signing bonus. That allows the team to spread the cap hit over the 2017-18 seasons. Johnson also agreed to drop his base salary for 2017 from $4.75 million to $1 million. The move freed up $4.25 million in cap space for the upcoming season.
“At the end of the day, it worked out for both of us,” Johnson said. “I’ll be all right on the money side of it, I’m not worried about that part. But it makes sense to work out something. We have an understanding, so we’ll both come out on top of this deal.”
Fullback Anthony Sherman also restructured his contract, dropping his 2017 base salary from $1.55 million to $1.1 million and eliminating his roster bonus. The move created $550,000 in salary cap space for the team.
Quarterback Alex Smith said the team did not approach him to restructure his contract. The veteran signal caller carries a $16.9 million cap hit this season with a $10.8 million base salary. His cap hit increases next year to $20.6 million, including a $14.5 million base salary. The Chiefs could release Smith after this season, however, and incur only a $3.6 million penalty against next year’s cap.
“The older you get I think for sure, anything you could do to help the team, whatever it is,” said the 34-year-old quarterback. “And certainly that’s part of it. I have not been approached, but yeah, absolutely.”
Smith admitted that like most players he doesn’t know the tricks of the trade and intricacies of salary cap management. But he indicated a willingness to renegotiate if it helps the team.
“But certainly I think anybody would be open to it,” Smith said. “Why wouldn’t you?”
Like Johnson, punter Dustin Colquitt enters his 13th season with the Chiefs. He’s in the final year of a five-year deal that carries a $4.9 million salary cap hit this season. His base salary pays him $4.05 million in 2017.
But unlike Johnson and Smith who have an additional year remaining on their contracts. Colquitt could hit the free agent market next offseason.
Staying in Kansas City is his first choice, however.
“Obviously this is my home, I plan to stay here long term,” Colquitt said. “This is a great city. I try to do as much as I can community wise, whether that be in schools, churches, whatever. This organization is all I know.”
Colquitt joked about how intertwined he feels with the organization and the city.
“I kind of laughed, it’s kind of like “Shawshank Redemption” – I’m institutionalized,” Colquitt said. “I love it here. If it comes to it, my choice would be stay here no matter what.”