The Kansas City Chiefs have a few major decisions to make as far as veteran returnees are concerned.
On the defensive line, one of those big discussions is whether or not they should extend Chris Jones to a lucrative long-term deal. Naturally, the other choice pertains to his partner in crime — defensive end Frank Clark.
Both Jones and Clark were integral during the Chiefs postseason run in early 2023. Fans haven’t always been pleased by the latter’s production rate throughout his tenure in KC, but the pass rusher nicknamed “the Shark” has been known to turn things up a notch in the playoffs.
Now, Clark once again profiles as a cut candidate this spring, but head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach both made it sound like they’d prefer to restructure or extend the veteran team leader for the second straight season when they spoke at the 2023 NFL Combine. The alternative is releasing him and saving a cool $21 million off the cap, with a dead cap hit of $7.675 million.
Andy Reid & Brett Veach Talk Up Chiefs DE Frank Clark
“We’ll probably, to a certain extent, need some cap space,” Veach responded candidly regarding Clark, “but we have a long history with him and his agent [Erik Burkhardt], too. He’ll be one of the many conversations we have this week and look forward to getting with him and seeing if we can work something out that makes sense for both parties.”
Later, the Chiefs GM stressed that “the good thing for us is that we have these strong connections with [players like Clark and Jones].” He added: “They love being here. That’s a good starting point for us. The bonds that we have with these players, and the fact that we have a long track record with them, helps us buy more time.”
Coach Reid wasn’t shy in praising the experienced D-end, expanding on Veach’s welcoming tone.
“I love Frank,” Reid told reporters without mincing words. “Frank is a top-notch guy. I love him to death.”
Hearing both key figures within the organization talk about Clark the man rather than Clark the player, it certainly feels like they’d prefer to keep him around — but only if they can find a way to reduce his exorbitant cap hit in 2023.
Veach did warn that despite his best intentions, these contract negotiations don’t always work out as planned. “I left [the Combine] last year thinking we were going to get Tyreek [Hill’s deal] redone,” he explained. “Things change quickly. The market usually dictates these things.”
If they’re unable to find a happy medium with Clark, The Athletic’s Nate Taylor reported that “the Chiefs will be competitive in the open market to re-sign Clark [at a lower salary after releasing him].”
Feeling Is Mutual Between Chiefs’ Andy Reid & Frank Clark
“I love [Reid] because of the man he is first, not the coach, the man he is,” Clark opened up about the Chiefs HC at the time. “I feel like if you know him from that standpoint, you would be able to attest to what I’m saying.”
He continued: “A lot of guys know him as a coach, and they only see the coach side of him. I’ve actually been fortunate enough to see the other side of him where I’ve had a lot of conversations with him from that standpoint in just helping me become a better father, helping me understand life a little bit more — in some of my tougher situations that I’ve had to endure over the last two years — and just sticking by me. Understanding that guys do have some bad times, guys do eff up sometimes… For me, having Coach Reid there was big.”
Clark finally explained that after his father passed a few years ago, father figures were lacking at times. “I spend a lot of time with coach,” he shared. “We have a great relationship, the things we’ve been able to talk about on the record and the things we’ve been able to talk about off the record have shaped our relationship and [brought] us so close. I feel like I’m able to talk to him about anything.”
The veteran defensive end sat on the sidelines and wept tears of joy after winning the Super Bowl for the second time with Kansas City. This team has become home to him, and perhaps he’d be willing to rework his contract once again if it meant sticking around in Chiefs Kingdom.