Reviewing the KC Chiefs largest 2023 salary cap hits
#2: Frank Clark, Defensive End: $28,675,000
It doesn’t take a psychic or an NFL expert to know that Frank Clark is not returning to the Chiefs at a $28.675M cap hit. That doesn’t mean he’ll be cut or traded, but the team will do something to reduce that number. If Clark and the team are unable to reach a new contract, Kansas City could save $21M (leaving $7.675M in dead money) by releasing him.
Frank Clark is not a great player anymore, but he is very useful. He served as a mentor to younger defensive linemen and has been productive in the playoffs for Kansas City. Based on interviews he’s had in the recent past, I imagine that he wants to return to the team this year.
Outside of straight-up releasing him, the other solution is extending his contract. Because $0 of his $20.5M 2023 base salary is guaranteed, the Chiefs hold all the leverage when it comes to renegotiating a new contract. Because $7.675M is fully locked into the 2023 cap (even if released or extended), any cash paid in 2023 will be on top of that when it comes to calculating his cap hit for this year. For example, if they reach a new 1-year deal in which he’s scheduled to earn $8M in salary and bonuses, his 2023 cap hit will be $15.675M. Unless the front office gets creative, there’s nothing the team can do to get rid of it.
Here is what a potential updated Frank Clark contract could look like:
- 2 years, $20M total, $3M signing bonus, and $9M in total guarantees
- 2023: $6M base salary (fully guaranteed), $9.175M from prorated bonuses ($1.5M from the new contract), $15.175M cap hit
- 2024: $11M base salary ($0 guaranteed), $1.5M prorated from signing bonus, $12.5M cap hit, $1.5M in dead money if released/traded
I realize that $15.175M looks like a lot, and it is to be fair, but since $7.675M is already set in stone, think of it more as it costing $7.5M to have Frank Clark on the team this season and $0 to cut him. The Chiefs and Clark may be able to agree to a lower figure than what I projected, but it will likely play out similarly to what I projected in terms of structure.