Can the Chiefs move on? Two names stand out first and foremost in that question, Frank Clark and Chris Jones. However, can the Kansas City Defense move on without either of these anchors? Let’s find out.
With several d-linemen possibly moving on in Free Agency. Tanoh Kpassagnon, Alex Okafor, and Mike Pennel, to give you a few names. That will help a bit with cap room, especially if second-year LDE Tim Ward can continue to grow into that role at just his base salary. But the Chiefs are still in huge cap trouble.
LDT Chris Jones
Firstly, let’s be honest; Jones should not be going anywhere. Secondly, His career 112 tackles and 40 sacks, not to mention being the Chiefs prominent run-stopper, truly sets him as a staple in the defensive line. Therefore, his $21,875,000 cap hit for 2021 is not all that bad. As was stated, Jones shouldn’t go anywhere, but this is the NFL, and stranger things have happened.
RDE Frank Clark
At a whopping 25,850,000 cap hit, Clark makes the most sense to attempt to part ways with. He alone takes 13.51% of the cap. That is more than QB1 Patrick Mahomes 12.99%. Consequently, there would be other hits to the cap with him leaving, but not near the damage as keeping him.
Above all, it just feels the production is not there for the price. Not saying he hasn’t produced well, 45 tackles and 14 sacks in his two years with the Chiefs. That is nothing to sneeze at. On the other hand, is it really the production Chiefs were looking for, for that amount of money?
Clark has had moments of brilliant pass rushing for the Chiefs. Fantastic swim moves to round the corner and sack the quarterback. It just seems those times were few and far between in the 2020 season. Maybe he had his best games at Seattle. Could his rookie back-up step-up and make his presence felt?
RDE Mike Danna
Rookie RDE Mike Danna could be the one to fill the Clark role and for a lot less damage to the salary cap. Danna’s cap hit for the 2021 season would be $845,915 at a mere .44%. Profoundly, that is almost a cap savings of Frank Clark’s salary cap hit. Something to think about.
Danna’s production for his rookie season was 13 games played, 16 tackles, 2.5 sacks, with nine assists. Those are pretty stout numbers backing up Clark, who would, of course, get most of the playing time.
Can the Chiefs move on from Clark? Many fans, including myself, had high expectations for him, especially for the amount of money. Above all else, he doesn’t seem to be the dominant pass rusher the Chiefs were hoping for and truly need.
Not saying moving Clark is the only defensive move that needs to happen. The non-existent linebacking crew gives way to some of the defensive linemen’s woes. This move could be huge in giving some cap breathing space. Giving the Chiefs a chance to make moves, sign other players, and hopefully make another Super Bowl run.
*stats from chiefs.com and nfl.com
*salaries from sportrac.com