Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark has been very much up and down since Kansas City acquired him from the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2019 season. Clark has never become that double-digit sack guy that he was in Seattle and while he has been praised for his run defense, the overall team run defense hasn’t improved all that much and you don’t pay $100 million for a decent run-defender and mediocre pass-rusher. In fact, Clark only had a 9.8% pressure rate in 2020 which ranked 53rd among all defensive ends. That has to improve.
Given Clark’s disappointing play over the last couple seasons and his very large contract, he seemed like a no-brainer contract restructure candidate to begin the offseason.
However, Clark’s contract was not restructured despite his pretty massive cap hit for next season. Why is that? Well, I believe that this is a sign that the front office is prepared to move on from Clark after 2021 if he has another disappointing season. Had they restructured Clark this past offseason, it would have only pushed his guaranteed money further back, making him virtually impossible to cut later on.
According to Spotrac.com, the Chiefs can save close to $13 million with a post-June 1st cut of Clark after the 2021 season whereas they wouldn’t save any money if they restructured his contract this offseason. The Chiefs want to be able to have the flexibility to move on from Clark if he has another disappointing year.
What would count as a disappointing year for Clark, though. Well, anything less than double-digit sacks would probably be a disappointment. There were stretches last year where Clark wouldn’t have a sack for several games and despite the Chiefs allocating over $200 million dollars into the defensive line, the pass-rush ranked towards the bottom of the league and a lot of that falls on Clark.
The Chiefs also added Jarran reed this offseason who should take pressure off Clark and Jones and open things up. It’s also worth noting that Clark had his best season in Seattle playing alongside Reed so there’s no excuses as to why Clark can’t have another season like 2018 in Seattle.
Clark will have to prove himself to be that game-wrecker the Chiefs thought they got when they acquired him. If not, we could potentially see the Chiefs move on from Clark after the 2021 season.