Although the Kansas City Chiefs have had a nice offseason, many fans are still hoping the front office signs one more veteran pass rusher to help support Frank Clark and rookie George Karlaftis on the edge.
The Chiefs currently have Mike Danna, Malik Herring and Joshua Kaindoh for depth at defensive end, not to mention the versatile Chris Jones in a pinch. A solid group, but one that comes with a ton of question marks if injuries occur.
An experienced veteran could do a lot to calm concerns from fans and it just so happens that a familiar face could become available in June.
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Polarizing First-Round Pick Could Be Cut
Rewind the clocks to 2016 and KC’s former No. 23 overall pick (of 2014) led the franchise in sacks. That player was Dee Ford, edge rusher out of Auburn, and the Pro Bowler repeated that double-digit effort with 13 more sacks in 2018 — which was second to Jones.
The issue with Ford has always been availability. When on the field, he’s been productive throughout his career but with only 18 appearances over the past three seasons as a San Franciso 49er, his value has been diminished.
Now, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, Ford is expected to be released.
“Any one of these players could arrive this week, but the 49ers have gone through the voluntary offseason program thus far without: Garoppolo, who’s rehabilitating from his March shoulder surgery, Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa, Alex Mack, Dee Ford and Trent Williams,” Barrows wrote. “The 49ers plan to cut Ford next month. Mack is still contemplating retirement while Williams, a 12-year veteran, simply doesn’t need the practice at this point of the offseason.”
Lost in the shuffle of the paragraph was a simple statement that the beat reporter stated as if it was an inevitable fact: “The 49ers plan to cut Ford next month.”
After being traded by the Chiefs, Ford signed a five-year, $85 million extension with San Francisco but never lived up to the contract. The Niners reduced his salary in 2021, guaranteeing the pass rusher $7 million, but that still brought his total “amount earned” with his second organization up over $41 million.
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Chiefs Moved on at the Right Time
We saw general manager Brett Veach trade wide receiver Tyreek Hill in 2022 and that move was somewhat reminiscent of Ford. Rather than pay the talented but inconsistent athlete, the front office decided to part ways and they chose to do so at the perfect time.
Ford did get to opposing quarterbacks 6.5 times in 2019 — plus one sack in the playoffs — but he hasn’t done much since.
His contract has also been a killer for a 49ers team that has been on the doorstep of a championship in recent years. Going one step further, who knows if the Chiefs win a Super Bowl the following season if they decide to pay Ford.
It’s a what-if scenario that went Kansas City’s way and the ultimate insult to injury would be a Ford reunion on a minimum contract. The pass rusher just turned 31 and his injury history and sub-par run defense at this stage of his career should scare away most suitors.
Perhaps a one-year flyer with a championship contender as a rotational pass rusher is just what Ford needs, and it just so happens that his old team could use the same thing.