When the Seattle Seahawks gave Russell Wilson an extension earlier this month that was the richest contract in NFL history in terms of average annual value, it became more likely that they would not be able to fit Frank Clark into the long-term plans financially after they only gave him the franchise tag earlier this offseason rather than giving him the long-term deal that he coveted. Today that belief today became a reality when the team traded the very productive defensive end to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a first-round pick in this weeks NFL Draft and a second-round pick in next years NFL Draft.
After moving on from long-time pass rusher Justin Houston and emerging pass rusher Dee Ford earlier this offseason it was clear that the Chiefs were going to be in the market for a pass rusher to try and improve on their defense that was one of the worst in the league and try and at least make that unit average to go with one of the elite offenses in all of football.
Upon trading for Clark the Chiefs also gave him a brand new deal that is for five-years and $105.5 million guaranteed, with $63.5 million guaranteed. That new contract will give him slightly more guaranteed money than DeMarcus Lawrence got earlier this offseason and it puts him as the seventh-highest cap hit for defensive ends going into this upcoming season.
While that is a lot of money to spend on one player on a defense that was not good last year, I still think it’s a great move and the reason for that is because Patrick Mahomes is on his rookie contract. The best time to go after a Super Bowl in the NFL is when you have an elite quarterback on a rookie contract, because then you’re getting the benefits of elite quarterback play without yet having to pay his market value, which for Mahomes will be very high when that time comes, and you have extra cap space to go out and try and plug holes that exist on your team.
The best recent example of that was Clark’s old team. In 2013 before Clark was in the league, Russell Wilson was on his rookie deal and that team had maybe the best defense we’ve seen in a decade and they had a very good offensive line in front of Wilson and you’ve seen what’s happened with some of the roster for Seattle as Wilson has become more expensive, and Clark is one of those casualties. They just simply couldn’t afford to pay for both of them and still field a strong other 51 around those two.
Clark will no doubt help the Chiefs. He has 35 career sacks and he’s only started 33 games in his career and this past season was the first year that he has started every game.
I don’t expect this move to make them a top-tier defense by any means because Clark is just one player, but the Chiefs also went out and added Tyrann Mathieu earlier this offseason and I think he will be more reliable than Eric Berry has been the past couple of seasons. And that’s not Berry’s fault, he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and Mathieu will have a cap hit about $10.5 million smaller.
Kansas City also has two second-round picks and a third-round pick in this weeks draft, so despite giving up their first-round pick, which was the right thing to do for Clark because they’re getting a proven Pro Bowl-caliber player, they still have three picks in the first three rounds so pay close attention to who they draft because if they draft defense, which they should, and those guys hit right away, they could turn around that defense and make it at least a top-20 unit under first year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
One things for sure, you can’t say the Chiefs aren’t trying to put the pieces around Patrick Mahomes to win a Super Bowl before his big pay day comes.
As far as Seattle goes, this move was just one that had to be made based on the business of the NFL. The draft capital they got for Clark though will give them a chance to try and put another good young piece on that roster each of the next two seasons as they try and build off of last years playoff appearance and put some young, cheap talent around the very handsomely-paid Russell Wilson.
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