KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs released veteran linebacker Demorrio Williams on Tuesday, saving the franchise about $2 million in salary cap space before the start of free agency.
The 31-year-old Williams joined the Chiefs in 2008 after four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, and eventually became the starter ahead of Derrick Johnson. But he's been used primarily on special teams the past few seasons as Johnson emerged as a Pro Bowl middle linebacker.
Williams has started 65 of 124 career games, including 22 starts over the past four years in Kansas City. He made 237 tackles (155) solo with the Chiefs.
Playing time would have been tight for Williams next season.
Johnson is signed through 2015, and is coming off the best year of his career, setting a franchise record with 179 tackles. He also had two interceptions and two sacks.
Jovan Belcher, a restricted free agent, is coming off a breakout season in which he finished second on the team in tackles. Kansas City also has signed Brandon Siler, who missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles in training camp, to a one-year extension.
Kansas City has more pressing needs in the April draft, particularly the offensive and defensive lines. But the Chiefs may also target a linebacker in the later rounds who can supply the same kind of depth and special teams ability as Williams at a fraction of the cost.