Frank Clark trade looks even better in retrospect for Chiefs
By Matt Conner
There’s a running theme for every player linked to this trade so far in that the year started slow for each. That also includes the lone veteran involved, although Chiefs fans would come to find out later that health reasons were to blame.
These days, Clark has to be feeling good about his ultimate place on the team. He was just named to the Pro Bowl for the very first time in his career, and he’s showcased the sort of toughness and leadership that has helped him, along with Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu, to transform the Chiefs defense from a weakness to a strength.
However it wasn’t always this way. In the wake of the trade (which again gave up three significant draft assets from the Chiefs), Clark also signed a five-year deal that clocked over the $100 million mark. The shadow of such high expectations proved to be too much for Clark’s first few games in the NFL. With only 1 sack in the first six games of the year, Chiefs fans were angry at the loss of proven veterans like Dee Ford and Justin Houston and wondered why general manager Brett Veach thought it necessary to pay what he did for Clark.
What became clear over time was that Clark had been dealing with a nerve/neck injury that rendered him unable to even feel a couple fingers by midseason. He was listed on the injury report as early as Week 2 for his neck, but it was an overlooked detail until he was forced to miss key games against the Packers and Vikings in Weeks 8 and 9.
Ever since his return from getting the rest and treatment he needed for his neck, Clark has been a beast—even playing through a stomach illness that forced him to lose 22 pounds (down to 238) that left him hospitalized for two days. He has 5 sacks in his last 6 games played and he’s wreaked havoc on the pocket each and every week.
What’s most impressive is that he’s still finding his rhythm as a leader and performer and his best is yet to come. He’s a two-way player who sets the edge against the run as well as he gets after the passer. This first Pro Bowl should be one of many to come.