The 2018 AFC Championship game saw the Kansas City Chiefs take on the New England Patriots. It was a great back and forth game. This was Patrick Mahomes first season as a starter in the NFL, and late in the fourth quarter he looked destined to lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady had just thrown a pass that went in and out of the hands of star Tight End Rob Gronkowski, which was then picked off by Chiefs Cornerback Charvarius Ward.
There was less than a minute left in the game, and the Chiefs were up by four. The game seemed to be over, and the Chiefs first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl IV seemed to be set in stone — until it wasn’t. Then Chiefs Defensive End Dee Ford lined up offsides which caused the interception to be called back and put the ball back in the hands of Brady. Brady would go on to win the game, send the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl win, end the Chiefs run, and, whether he knew it or not, end Ford’s time in KC.
In the ensuing off-season the Chiefs would deal Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, a pick that was used to take promising Linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. Later in the same season, the Chiefs would trade away their first-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks Outside Linebacker Frank Clark. The Chiefs would immediately sign Clark to a five-year $104,000,000 contract.
The Chiefs paid Clark like the star defensive end they expected him to be, and he just hasn’t lived up to it. In his two years in Kansas City Clark has only recorded eight sacks in 2019 and six in 2020. Not exactly worth the money they have paid him thus far, and Clark has three more years left on his contract, and unless his stats vastly improve in 2021 the Chiefs need to let him walk if he chooses to do so after this year.
At the end of this season Clark has a player option to opt-out of the remainder of the contract, and if Clark doesn’t play how he did in 2018, what led to the Chiefs trading for him in the first place, then they need to cut ties, and try to draft someone better in the 2022 NFL Draft, or find someone in free agency.
The Chiefs are definitely trying to give Clark every chance to succeed by moving star Defensive Tackle Chris Jones to Defensive End opposite of Clark so opposing Offensive Lines can’t just focus on Clark and Jones on the same side and shut them both down. Chiefs GM Brett Veach also added Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed in the off-season to have someone to play in Jones’ place when he’s playing on the end. If Clark can’t find a way to get through offensive lines with them not being able to focus on just one person, and containing them, then he’s simply just not worth the money anymore.
Even if Clark does manage to improve enough to warrant keeping him around, he still may not be worth the headache. Clark was arrested in June of 2021 in Los Angeles when after a routine traffic stop police officers saw a sub-machine gun in a duffel bag in his back seat. Just three months earlier in March of 2021, Clark was arrested with another man after officers found two loaded guns in the car. Both times Clark posted his bond, but the charges still stand, and Clark will still have to have his day in court and could serve time for the offenses.
Clark has one redeeming quality to him — when the lights of the postseason come on, he shines. In his two postseasons with the Chiefs, Clark has recorded eight sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. While those stats are impressive, if he could do that entire season, he could be mentioned in the same breath as teammate Chris Jones and Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald for potential Defensive Player of the Year. For whatever reason though, Clark seems to struggle in the regular season and has a hard time having an impact.
The Chiefs need to see that kind of production out of Clark if they are going to continue paying him to play in Kansas City. Brett Veach has shown he’s nothing if not a smart business man. He’s not afraid to let players walk, or even let release players of their contracts once he feels they are no longer an asset to the team. He proved this, this off-season when he let Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins walk even though Watkins made some amazing plays in both the 2019 AFC Championship game, and the ensuing Super Bowl 54 to help the Chiefs win both games. Watkins spent more time on the sidelines injured than he did on the field for the Chiefs, so Veach and company decided not to re-sign him and let him go to the Ravens. Veach also cut Tackles Eric Fisher, and Mitchell Schwartz both of whom were veterans of the team and staples of the Chiefs offensive line. Both men also missed the Super Bowl due to injuries, and left Mahomes running for his life for the entire game.
While the NFL hasn’t made a comment on the subject, it would be surprising if they don’t suspend Clark for at least four games to start the season. If Clark can’t get his off-season act together, the Chiefs may be better off to cut ties with him.