Frank Clark’s contract is the price of a Super Bowl for the Chiefs
How much would you pay to see the Kansas City Chiefs win another Super Bowl? $1,000? $100,000? How much do you think the Chiefs organization would be willing to pay?
Flash back five years ago, how would that number change? Kansas City had spent almost 50 long years waiting for another trip to the Super Bowl, and it seemed like Chiefs Kingdom would be willing to give just about anything to see their team hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
As it turns out, the Chiefs were willing to pay $104,000,000 over five years for a championship.
At the start of the 2019 season, the Chiefs knew their time to win was now. They had come so close to returning to the Super Bowl the previous season, only to lose to the New England Patriots in gut wrenching fashion in the AFC Championship game.
Frank Clark’s role in achieving Super Bowl glory makes it all worthwhile for K.C. Chiefs.
As part of a rebuild of their defense, KC released veterans Justin Houston and Eric Berry. Their big offseason acquisition was defensive end Frank Clark.
Clark spent his first four seasons with the Seahawks, recording a career-high 13 sacks in his last season in Seattle, before he was traded to KC. The Chiefs gave up a first-round pick in 2019 and a second-round pick in 2020 to acquire Clark, before signing him to a mega five-year $104,000,000 contract.
Clark had a strong year during his first season in K.C. and he was selected to the Pro Bowl. He started off slow early on but built up and peaked at just the right time: the playoffs. After just one sack in his first six games for Kansas City, Clark had seven sacks in his next eight games. In the postseason, Clark had five sacks—the most of any Chief—nine tackles and 13 QB pressures.
Clark’s three sacks against Houston in the divisional round were the most he’s ever had in one game, and his other two sacks both came at crucial times. He brought down Titans QB Ryan Tannehill late in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game to ice the game.
Two weeks later, with the Chiefs leading the 49ers 24-20 late in the fourth quarter, Clark sacked 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo on fourth down to give the Chiefs back the ball. The sack paid off. Two plays later, Damien Williams ran 38 yards to the end zone to clinch K.C.’s second Super Bowl.
Since then, Clark has been unable to make the same impact. His numbers were down in 2020—six sacks and 29 tackles—and injuries have kept him sidelined for all but one game so far this season.
Clark, justifiably, has copped criticism over his output. His contract is too large to be worthwhile for anything other than a top-level player. Clark will earn $25,800,000 this season—the largest cap hit for a non-QB in the league, and the seventh-largest overall. Clark’s current output simply does not justify spending that amount. The Chiefs are paying top dollar for what PFF ranks as the 104th best edge defender in the league, and that hurts.
Even worse for K.C., his cap hit is set to increase over the next two years. His contract eats up a ton of cap space, which is cap space that the Chiefs could have used to address other issues.
But despite all the current pain his contract is causing, Clark’s role in K.C.’s Super Bowl run should not be forgotten. He had an immense impact, and without him the Chiefs might not have been able to lift the Lombardi trophy. His current contract hurts right now, and it will likely continue to hurt KC in the future too. But it played a massive role in helping the Chiefs win a championship.
Kansas City paid an awful lot to make Frank Clark a Chief. But winning the Super Bowl—and Clark’s role in achieving that—make it all worthwhile. Spending $104,000,000 to win a championship? Sounds like good value to me.