The move saved GM Brett Veach and KC some much-needed cap space but don’t expect the front office to stop there. Many believe edge rusher Frank Clark could be next, although his situation is a bit trickier.
The Chiefs don’t have a clear “out” with Clark, they would have to eat $13.6 million to part ways with him before June 1 — whether they find a trade partner or not. Perhaps, there’s another option.
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Clark Successor Falls to Chiefs in Mock
If Kansas City wanted to replace Clark in free agency, they’d probably have to get rid of his contract before March 16 in order to free up enough space. The smarter plan might be to draft a new pass rusher and a recent CBS mock from Ryan Wilson gifted Veach a dream candidate.
At pick No. 30, Wilson sent Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis to the Chiefs — a player some had as a top-10 talent a couple months ago. He explained:
The defense got better over the course of the season, but the Chiefs need to do a better job getting after the quarterback. Karlaftis looks the part and flashed at times last season for Purdue, and if he can play with more consistency he could end up as a steal at this point in the draft process.
The Greek native picked up football later in life but his 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame made him a natural right out of the gates. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network scouted Karlaftis as an “every-down 4-3 defensive end” that “might be the best power rusher in this year’s class.”
The Purdue prospect is also seen as a player with room to grow, known for his size, versatility, upper-body strength, athleticism and burst. Even his technique has come a long way in a short period according to Crabbs.
If a talent like Karlaftis falls to Veach at No. 30, Kansas City shouldn’t wait longer than five seconds to snatch him up. A selection like this would also allow them to trade or cut Clark after June 1, which would save them $19.5 million instead of the $12.7M they’d free up before that date.
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CBS Analyst Thinks Clark ‘Should Be Traded’
Benjamin wrote: “The former Seahawks pass rusher was a vital piece of Kansas City’s Super Bowl win in 2019, but he’s due a whopping $26.3M in 2022, a year after posting just 22 tackles and 4.5 sacks as part of an underachieving Chiefs D-line. He’s now seen his sack total drop in three straight seasons. At 28, he may very well have a number of solid, even Pro Bowl, seasons left, but the Chiefs could still stand to get younger and more reliable on that side of the ball.”
All fair assessments that most within Chiefs Kingdom would agree with, but would any team be willing to take on Clark’s contract?
In June, it actually may be more possible than it feels at the moment. Let’s say a team with some money to spend misses out on the top pass rushers in March, and then the top EDGE prospects in April. Three or four months prior, they might have passed on Clark but in June they could be more desperate for some help.
You could also try and trade him closer to the season, let’s say a major injury occurs in training camp. I know, this doesn’t really allow the Chiefs to use his cap space to add in free agency but it would allow KC to extend Tyreek Hill or store some money away for a potential trade deadline acquisition.
If you have no designs on keeping him around then worst-case scenario, you release him this summer and save the $19.5 million anyway. More cap space is never a bad thing, and Veach can maximize his savings on a Clark cut by waiting until after the NFL draft.