NFL Insider Pegs Former First-Round Talent as Frank Clark Replacement

Marcus Davenport

Getty New Orleans Saints free agent Marcus Davenport in 2021.

The NFL’s legal tampering period is now a week away with free agency’s official start date on March 15.

That means things should start ramping up right about now and on March 6, they did, as a major quarterback domino fell and former Las Vegas Raiders starter Derek Carr elected to sign with the New Orleans Saints. Wave goodbye to a long-time AFC rival, Chiefs Kingdom.

Speaking of the Saints, a former NOLA first rounder was connected to Kansas City by Heavy on Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo. “After logging 56 sacks in 2022, the Chiefs pass rush is one of the more productive in the NFL,” Lombardo began during a segment of “The Matt Lombardo Show,” continuing: “But — Frank Clark is a potential cap casualty that could save the Chiefs $22 million if they move on this offseason.”

“Don’t be surprised if GM Brett Veach prioritizes adding an affordable veteran edge rusher to pair with emerging rookie George Karlaftis,” he went on. “Enter Marcus Davenport. He might be an ideal prototypical rotational edge rusher for coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.”

Saints’ Marcus Davenport Is Comparable to Chiefs’ Frank Clark

One could argue that Davenport profiles as a younger version of Clark, turning 27 years old in September. He’s coming off a rough campaign after a breakout season in 2021 (nine sacks and 16 QB hits), which Lombardo addressed while discussing him as a free agent fit for KC.

“Davenport fought through an injury-riddled 2022 campaign, producing just one sack, but he did log 34 total quarterback pressures and he also excels at stopping the run on the way to the quarterback,” Lombardo detailed.

That last part has always been an underrated part of Clark’s game, as he’s considered a solid edge defender against the ground game. Lombardo concluded that Davenport could become a “top target” if the Chiefs are unable to rework Clark’s contract and retain him in 2023.

Lombardo has previously suggested New England Patriots free agent Jakobi Meyers as an option for the Chiefs at wide receiver, as well as Minnesota Vikings veteran Patrick Peterson at cornerback.

Can Chiefs Unlock Marcus Davenport’s Ceiling? And at What Cost?

This potential signing will depend on the price tag — let’s say Clark is released.

Davenport has been inconsistent since entering the league as the No. 14 overall pick in 2018. Despite that, Spotrac is projecting that he’ll get paid big money based on their calculated market value tool. Over $23 million per year, to be exact.

Based on Davenport’s overall body of work, that would be way too much money for KC, and they’d be better off looking at edge rushers in the draft considering how well the Karlaftis selection turned out a year ago.

If Davenport’s market is impacted by his 2022 campaign, however, a buy-low reclamation project sounds like the type of free agent that Veach would be interested in. After all, he’s made a living out of acquiring second chance prospects on the cheap — allowing his elite coaching staff led by Andy Reid and Spagnuolo to unlock talent once they secure it.

The former Saint could be the next in a long line of KC transformations. Recent of note reclamation stories have included WRs Kadarius Toney and JuJu Smith-Schuster, CBs Charvarius Ward (UDFA originally) and Bashaud Breeland, and to some extent, S Justin Reid.

Of course, we’ve seen these moves disappoint too with additions like RB Le’Veon Bell and CB Deandre Baker among others.

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