Chiefs sign linebacker Massaquoi to provide depth
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a three-year deal with veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson, ensuring the franchise's career tackles leader will retire with the team that drafted him, while shoring up several other holes Wednesday during a robust start to free agency.
The Chiefs also agreed to a five-year deal with offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, retained defensive tackle Jaye Howard with a two-year contract, and added pass-rushing depth with linebackers Jonathan Massaquoi and Frank Zombo on the first day that free agents were allowed to sign.
The agreements were confirmed to The Associated Press by several people with direct knowledge of them on condition of anonymity because the Chiefs had yet to announce the signings.
With the Chiefs having already re-signed pass rusher Tamba Hali and franchising safety Eric Berry, the move to retain Johnson allows them to keep the core of one of the NFL's best defenses intact.
Johnson was the Chiefs' first-round pick in 2005, and bounced back from a season-ending Achilles injury to make his fourth Pro Bowl last season. He started all 16 games and finished with 95 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions, passing Gary Spani along the way for the team's career tackles record.
The former Texas standout was testing free agency the first time, but the 33-year-old linebacker said all along that he wanted to finish his career in Kansas City.
Schwartz started every game for the Cleveland Browns since becoming their second-round pick in the 2012 draft. As the bookend to Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, he often had to deal with the opponent's top pass rusher, and was solid in shutting down the Broncos' Von Miller during an overtime loss in October.
''I'm excited to announce that I'll be joining the Chiefs!!'' Schwartz tweeted Wednesday night.
The former Cal standout is the brother of offensive guard Geoff Schwartz, one of the first to sign with general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid after they took over the Chiefs. Schwartz played one season in Kansas City before signing a free-agent deal with the New York Giants.
The Chiefs moved quickly to add Schwartz with Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson, two former Chiefs draft picks and key cogs on the offensive line, considering other landing spots.
Howard was coming off a breakthrough season that led to interest from several teams in free agency. But the former fourth-round pick of the Seahawks ultimately decided to stick with Kansas City after starting 14 of 16 games and making a career-best 5 1/2 sacks last season.
Massaquoi and Zombo, who spent the past three seasons with the Chiefs, elected to sign with Kansas City despite Hali receiving a three-year deal one day earlier. They added depth behind Hali, Justin Houston and former first-round pick Dee Ford with backup linebacker Dezman Moses a free agent.
How all the moves shake out under the salary cap should be interesting. The Chiefs began the day with only about $19 million available, putting them in the bottom third of all NFL franchises.
If nothing else, the flurry of signings takes some of the attention away from the other news of the day: The Chiefs were docked their third-round pick this April and a sixth-round pick next year for violating the NFL's anti-tampering rules during their negotiations with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last season.
The franchise also was fined $250,000, while coach Andy Reid was fined $50,000 and general manager John Dorsey fined $25,000. The Chiefs said in a statement they are considering whether to appeal the penalties.
Maclin eventually signed a $55 million, five-year deal with Kansas City.
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