Chris Jones, Frank Clark could pose future dilemma for KC Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 12: Defensive end Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs pressures quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans in the second half during the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 12: Defensive end Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs pressures quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans in the second half during the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

The finances along the Chiefs defensive line will create an interesting future.

With the looming prospect of securing the services of Patrick Mahomes, the best player in the world, at the highest salary ever paid to an NFL player, the Kansas City Chiefs know that their future will be littered with incredibly difficult decisions about which players to pay and which players to let go (or trade).

Obviously, those decisions have already started for the Chiefs. General manager Brett Veach has said as much, stating time and time again that preparing for Patrick Mahomes‘ record-setting extension has been at the forefront of salary cap planning basically since he took over the job.

As we project the future, one of the more difficult decision the Chiefs will have to make is between defensive linemen Chris Jones and Frank Clark. If we take Veach at his word, that Chris Jones is a priority extension for Kansas City, then we can assume that when the next contract comes due for Frank Clark (set to expire after the 2023 season) the Chiefs will be forced make a decision between their two star pass rushers.

If Jones signs before the July 15th deadline, Jones will be in year three of his new deal and in his year 28 season. Clark will be 29. Both are likely to seek one more large payday in their careers, and the Chiefs are highly likely to be in a position to have to choose between the two.

The question rises: who is more valuable to the team’s overall success? When both players are healthy, each is among the top players at his respective position in the entire NFL.

I think the Chiefs would choose Jones if they had to make that choice today. While it is not easy to find either, my perception is that it is easier to find quality edge rushers than interior defensive linemen as good as Jones. Clark was a beast for the Chiefs in the second half of last season, but Jones played some of the best IDL football ever in the second halves of the AFC Championship and Super Bowl. My sense is also that Clark’s neck/shoulder injury which hampered him in the first half of 2019 is a bigger red flag moving forward than Jones’ hamstring injury is.

It will be a tough decision, but one that we have to trust Brett Veach to make.

Reader Question

Each week, we’ll answer a question or two from readers about our team. These can be about any topic related to the Chiefs, send me a question via DM (@kthomps58).

This week’s question comes from Michael Shelton of Lawrence, KS:

“There’s been a lot of talk about how the pace and approach to offense have changed in the last few years. In basketball for example, a popular narrative is that the spacing and shooting of Steph Curry and the Warriors offense changed the game, both the way that other teams had to defend and also the way that those teams play offense. My question is: Are we (on the cusp of) seeing the Chiefs do something similar with their dynamic and versatile offense?”

Great question Michael, thank you! I think that this we are trending in that direction watching the current iteration of Andy Reid‘s offense. Obviously, a ton of that has to do with Patrick Mahomes’ once-in-a-generation type talent. But it also has to do with so much more than that.

The Chiefs combination of Mahomes, Travis Kelce as the best pass-catching tight end in football, and the fastest trio of receivers in NFL history makes them a particularly difficult team to stop.

Investigating just a level deeper, and one realizes that the Chiefs depth and quality at running back also plays a significant factor. Not only is Anthony Sherman the best blocking fullback in football, he can also run well and catch passes when called upon to do so. Even before the addition of rookie first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the combination of Damien Williams and Darrell Williams, plus the free agent acquisition of DeAndre Washington, means that the Chiefs have a depth of talent at the position which fully compliments the pass-first mentality of the team.

To combat this, and more to your point, teams have only two options. First, they can choose to blitz Mahomes and make him get the ball out quickly. With some potential weakness along the offensive interior, this is a distinct possibility. The problem for defenses is that the data shows that the Super Bowl MVP is actually better when facing the blitz.

The other end of the spectrum is to rush three and drop eight. However, with the stable of running backs, Mahomes ability to run the football, and the overall speed of the receivers, it is unrealistic to hope the secondary can cover long enough (or well enough) to make a play.

There are no good options for defenses right now to stop the Chiefs’ offense. So yes, to answer your question. Defensive coordinators will have to get creative in how they try to do so, and as such, we will be witness to an ushering in of a new defensive framework as a result of what we’re seeing here. (It is also fair to note that run-heavy offense like the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are posing similar issues for opposing defenses, even if the styles are 180 degrees apart.)

Chiefs Trivia

Each week’s column will feature a trivia question related to the Kansas City Chiefs. Challenge yourself by coming up with the correct response without looking it up! Enter for a chance to win a Chiefs prize via either Facebook or Twitter Direct/Private Messaging. Must retweet or share the column on your personal page, and provide the correct answer via PM/DM, to be eligible. Winner will be chosen at random on Saturday.

Last week’s winners were Rich and Kelly Chillarege who correctly identified the Cotton Bowl as the first home stadium in franchise history.

This week’s question trivia is: Which former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback holds the team record for most interceptions in a single game?

NFL Story of the Week

The biggest story in the NFL, and the world right now, is the Coronavirus. One of the most important results of the pandemic, as it relates to the NFL, is what decreased revenue streams may ultimately do to the salary cap. Last week in Chiefs Chatter, we talked about what it may mean for Kansas City; but what further implications may it have for the NFL as a whole?

It will be interesting to see if the NFL demands new contracts from television networks in light of the virus, in an effort to maintain its’ profit margins. If stadiums are only allowed 25-33% capacity, as has been speculated, how will that affect ticket prices? The fan experience?

The truest answer is likely that franchises will cut back on their auxiliary staff. There will be less stadium employees, less front office employees, and less people overall as a result of decreased revenue streams. What is most unlikely to occur, however, is that teams do anything to decrease the quality of the product on the field.

Chiefs Fact of the Week

The Chiefs have retired 10 numbers in the franchise’s history. Seven of those 10 numbers belong to members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the team has also retired the numbers of Abner Haynes (28), Stone Jonhson (33) and Mack Lee Hill (36).

Chiefs Record of the Week

Priest Holmes is the team record holder for rushing touchdowns in both a career, and in a season. He tallied 76 runs for scores in his seven year Chiefs career; and rushed for 27 touchdowns in 2003 (the second most in a season in NFL history).

Random Fact of the Week

The original Superman, originating in 1938, could not fly. Instead, he could merely leap tall buildings. Animators added his flying superpower in the 1940s because it was time consuming to draw the hero with bended knees.

Sports Quote of the Week

“Part of being a champ is acting like a champ. You have to learn how to win and not run away when you lose.” – Nancy Kerrigan

Oddball Sport of the Week

Pistol Dueling used to be an Olympic sport.