There was big news in Chiefs Kingdom on March 6.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter was the first to report, relaying: “Chiefs and Frank Clark’s agent Erik Burkhardt were unable to find common ground on a reworked deal during several conversations at the combine and the expectation now is that Kansas City will release the 29-year-old DE who is the NFL’s third all-time leading postseason sack leader, per sources.”
By releasing Clark, the Chiefs would save $21 million in cap space according to Over the Cap. They would also incur a dead cap hit of $7.675 million in 2023 but considering their options, this is a manageable price to pay.
Chiefs May Try to Re-Sign Frank Clark After Expected Release
From the start, the Chiefs have been very candid about wanting Clark back, but his exorbitant cap hit of $28.675 million needed some work. Based on this report, which was later confirmed by The KC Star’s Herbie Teope, Clark and his agent would prefer to take their chances on the open market.
There is a way where the two sides can still come together on a new deal though — reportedly. NFL Network’s James Palmer tweeted: “The chiefs plan to release pass rusher Frank Clark per source. There is the chance he returns to KC. The relationship between Clark and Andy Reid is a special one. But Clark should get plenty of interest on the open market considering his ability to make game changing plays.”
The Athletic’s Nate Taylor backed this piece of information from Palmer, voicing that “the Chiefs will be competitive in the open market to re-sign Clark [at a lower salary after releasing him].”
Worst case scenario, if they do indeed lose “the Shark” to another suitor, there are already a number of options to replace him in free agency and the draft.
Making Sense of the Chiefs’ Fallout With Frank Clark
You might be thinking — Wait, so if the Chiefs might still try and re-sign Clark, why release him in the first place? It’s a fair question, but the answer lies in the uniqueness of this situation.
The simple response is that the NFL is a business. Kansas City needs to clear cap space and Clark’s contract allows a massive amount of relief ahead of free agency. General manager Brett Veach even admitted that he “left [the Combine] last year thinking we were going to get Tyreek [Hill’s deal] redone,” while speaking on Clark’s situation at the 2023 NFL Combine.
Veach added ominously: “Things change quickly. The market usually dictates these things.”
On the other side of the discussion, Clark and his team probably feel that the veteran has played well enough that he shouldn’t have to keep taking pay cuts to remain with the franchise. Again, it’s not personal, it’s just business.
Here is the unique part. Clark loves this organization and Coach Reid — who he has recently referred to as a father figure. Big Red also made it very clear that he loves Clark “to death,” calling him a “top-notch” person.
In other words, Burkhardt has probably advised Clark that he’s earned an opportunity to at least test his market in free agency. If he gets a huge offer from someone else, one would assume that KC would let him walk.
However, if his market is lower than anticipated, perhaps the Chiefs match an offer from another team — or come close enough financially where Clark decides he’d rather stay put with the people and the fanbase that he’s grown to love and call home. So long as the dead cap penalty ($7.675 million) and the new contract have a cap hit that is less than $28.675 million combined, KC would save some money in this exchange. They’d also be able to rearrange Clark’s new contract however they please.
It’s an interesting situation that involves a ton of mutual respect, despite an unwillingness by either side to budge on yet another contract restructure.