When it comes to a sensitive topic like this, it is important to list all facts first and foremost. In March, the Kansas City Star reported that Frank Clark had been arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer. He is being charged with felony possession of a firearm for that incident by the LA County District Attorney. This is because two different loaded weapons were found in the car during Clark’s traffic stop in March. He faces a potential three-year prison sentence for this case.
Then, Frank Clark was arrested again in June, at which time a submachine gun is found in his car. That case is still under investigation, with Clark’s lawyer claiming that that gun was not Clark’s, but instead his bodyguards. He is unlikely to be charged with felony possession for this situation. Even if he is charged, he will likely plead down to a lesser crime.
However, both of these cases combine to spell uncertainty for Clark’s near future.
As mentioned above, Clark is facing a potential three-year jail sentence for felony possession of a firearm. The chances of a judge giving him a lighter sentence are diminished by Clark’s second arrest. He has already shown a likeliness to re-offend, which will encourage a judge to throw the book at Clark.
A three-year prison sentence likely ends Frank Clark’s football career. No NFL general manager will take a chance on an average player who has not played football in three years. Clark and his lawyers should be desperately looking for a way to stay out of prison for this reason.
However, even without prison time, Clark has likely lost a ton of money.
Frank Clark was due 18.5 million dollars this upcoming season in guaranteed money. According to contract expert Spotrac, any sort of suspension would void this guaranteed money.
However, as pointed out by Conner Christopherson at Arrowhead Report, it may not even take a suspension for the Chiefs to get that money back.
This leaves the Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach with quite a few options for how to proceed.
Keep Frank Clark on the team
The more research you do into the Chiefs’ options here, you less likely it appears that Frank Clark will suit up in red this season. However, it is still an option the Chiefs can choose to pursue.
Frank Clark has underperformed by quite a bit the last two seasons, and many in the Chiefs’ Kingdom have been calling for his job all summer. Between missing multiple games every season for any, and every, reason imaginable, to a lack of on-the-field success, they have plenty of reasons to be angry.
However, at 100% health and effort, he is the most talented defensive end on the team. Taco Charlton is good but unproven. Mike Danna is still developing. Joshua Kaindoh has never played a snap of NFL football. TIm Ward has yet to make a 53 man cut. The only player on the defense who could take Clark’s spot on the end of the line is Chris Jones, who has not proven his ability on the outside of the line yet.
If Frank Clark stays on the roster, it will be because the Chiefs do not have faith that anyone else on the roster can fill his shoes.
Release Frank Clark now, replace him now
If the Kansas City Chiefs release Frank Clark after his guarantees are voided, they will gain an additional 18 million dollars in cap space. Quite a bit of that will find its way to Tyrann Mathieu for his extension, and a bit more will likely be rolled over to pay Orlando Brown next offseason. The money that is not used in the house will then be used to bring a new defensive end into the locker room.
Justin Houston and Melvin Ingram remain free agents, and the Chiefs would have the money to bring in one of the veteran pass rushers. They may not be every-down players, but they could provide the depth and explosiveness necessary to help out the young players with who they will rotate.
This is probably the most likely option, but there is still one more option.
Wait to release Frank Clark, make sure his replacement is ready
In two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs report to training camp. For the first time since Super Bowl 55, the entire Kansas City Chiefs roster and faculty will be together. After a week, full-contact practice begins, and player evaluations really begin here.
This is where the Chiefs can best decide on Frank Clark’s fate. With fresh evaluations on Tim Ward, Joshua Kaindoh, and Mike Danna, the coaching staff and Brett Veach can decide if they can proceed without Frank Clark.
Tim Ward has been so close so many times. Taco Charlton showed some serious upside last season. Joshua Kaindoh could be a protege. Mike Danna was the second-best Chief in Super Bowl 55. Chris Jones is angry, talented, and ready to prove himself at the defensive end.
The Chiefs’ defensive end roster may seem thin, but they are so close, and with a training camp evaluation in hand, the Chiefs’ faculty could decide that someone has passed what Clark has shown.
The Chiefs have been burned by Frank Clark’s contract for two years. Veach has had that contract looming over his head for most of his tenure as general manager. Many thought he could finally break free of that contract next year.
However, by a series of unfortunate events, an earlier out has presented itself and Veach should take it. Veach should grab that opportunity and never look back. Especially if it allows some of the players he has drafted to shine and become who he thought they could be.
Hopefully, he makes the right decision here.