Kansas City Chiefs: Dee Ford knows contract riding on this year

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford so far in his NFL career. The linebacker knows his next contract is riding on his performance this year.

When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dee Ford in 2015, most people assumed that the team had found an heir to Tamba Hali. Ford came to the NFL with a much-talked about first step and athletic ability. However, he has struggled to make a consistent impact in the NFL. Now the former Auburn star knows he is playing for his next contract.

Yes, it’s true that the Chiefs exercised the fifth year option in Dee Ford’s contract. So he is under contract through the 2018 season. However, it will be this year that is truly key for his next contract. Teams are generally cautious of players who don’t step up until the final year of their deal.

The good news for Dee Ford is that he finally started to show some promise in 2016. The young pass rusher was able to rack up 10 sacks for the first time in his NFL career. That is the kind of production the Chiefs have been looking for.

However, that production doesn’t come without some caveats. Most notably, Ford got most of his sacks during a five game stretch. Apart from that, he was largely shut down by opposing offensive lines. The Chiefs need him to be more consistently productive.

“But my focus is on, if I do what I’ve got to do, the contract will take of itself.” ~ Dee Ford on contract

Chiefs Showing Faith

One thing that is working in Dee Ford’s favor is that the Kansas City Chiefs are showing some faith in him. Not only did the Chiefs utilize the fifth year option on Ford, but they also opted to not draft a new pass rusher this year.

Kansas City had shown a lot of early interest in pass rushers in the 2017 NFL Draft. It was largely considered a very strong class to get an edge rusher in. However, the Chiefs opted to not invest in the position. That shows a lot of faith in Dee Ford’s ability to continue to improve.

He Understands His Position

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Dee Ford recently spoke with the Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor about the upcoming season. One of the more notable quotes of that interview was when Ford stated: “But my focus is on, if I do what I’ve got to do, the contract will take of itself.”

That shows complete self-awareness of his current situation. Dee Ford understands that this is an important year for his future in the NFL. The team needs him to step up and become a reliable pass rushing option. If that doesn’t happen, then Ford’s future is likely not going to be in Kansas City.

The Chiefs have a proud history of quality pass rushers. It is an area where the team has seemingly been able to just reload. However, the hopes are clearly being placed on Dee Ford to be the next name on that long and distinguished list. Now is the time for him to step up.

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The Kansas City Chiefs look to be one of the strongest teams in the NFL right now. The Chiefs are confident in a roster that returns nearly everyone from a 12-4 season. They have invested heavily in their future. However, it remains to be seen if Dee Ford will be a permanent fixture in that future.