Despite paying the likes of both Frank Clark and Chris Jones in excesses of $20 million annually, the Kansas City Chiefs have just 12.0 team sacks to show for it this season. The team did recently flip a sixth-rounder to acquire Melvin Ingram from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, it’s difficult to expect a player who has just 2.5 sacks over his last 18 games to almost single-handedly help turn around the league’s 31st-ranked pass rush.
In reality, Ingram and Clark could benefit from another running mate coming off the edge. While the market is relatively thin nearly 10 weeks into the season, Olivier Vernon still remains on the unemployment line. Working his way back from injury, Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes the Chiefs would be wise to kick the tires on former Giants and Browns edge rusher in hopes of bolstering their sack production:
Olivier Vernon will eventually be a hot commodity on the free-agent market. But teams still have to wait a little bit longer before they can add the pass-rusher…
Injuries have been a concern throughout Vernon’s career, and he might not be the most explosive edge-rusher upon his return. But the Kansas City Chiefs shouldn’t care. They should be doing everything in their power to help their defense.
General manager Brett Veach already started by trading for Melvin Ingram III prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline. That likely won’t be enough, though.
The Chiefs already had Chris Jones playing out of position because they were so thin on the edge. Frank Clark isn’t anywhere near the player whom they envisioned when they traded three draft picks, including a first-round selection, to acquire him from the Seattle Seahawks two years ago. Working through injuries and off-field troubles, Clark has managed only one sack in five appearances.
Vernon’s Health Status
Vernon, who suffered a torn Achilles in Week 17 of last season, isn’t quite ready to return to the gridiron just yet. According to FanSided’s Matt Lombardo, the former Pro Bowl selection continues to work his way back to full strength.
“I know there has been a lot of chatter about Olivier Vernon, especially when it comes to teams potentially looking for pass-rush help down the stretch, but my understanding is he isn’t yet fully healthy after rupturing his Achilles in Week 17 last season,” tweeted FanSided’s Matt Lombardo on November 2nd.
After playing a full slate of games in each of his first four NFL seasons, Vernon has missed a total of 17 contests since 2017.
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Vernon’s Ability to Get After the Passer
Vernon, who earned a massive $85 million payday ($52 million guaranteed) with the Giants back in 2016, has made a living throughout his NFL tenure getting after the quarterback — just not always bringing him down. While his 63.5 career sacks are certainly nothing to scoff at, Vernon has recorded double-digit sacks just once in his nine seasons.
Instead, the Miami (FL) product has been known to wreak havoc in the backfield, amassing 157 QB hits since entering the league in 2019. His 51 pressures in 2019 were second in the NFL and just five behind then-Browns teammate Myles Garrett.