Despite the addition of Kansas State edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah, the Kansas City Chiefs still have room for another body at the table.
Two-time champion defensive end Frank Clark was released by the Kansas City Chiefs just weeks following their 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Unfortunately for the eight-year veteran, he and the team were unable to come to terms on a revamped contract. The move spared the Chiefs his forthcoming 2023 cap number — a hit of nearly $29 million dollars. Clark remains unsigned at this stage of free agency and will likely take time to weigh his options.
On Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chiefs used its 31st overall pick to draft K-State edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah. The former Wildcat has an intriguing set of pass-rushing tools, but is just 21 years old and still ripening as a defensive end prospect. The Chiefs did sign free agent end Charles Omenihu presumably to start opposite of 2022 first-round selection George Karlaftis. That likely leaves Uzomah to be a rotational piece in Year One as he adjusts to the speed and culture of the NFL game.
Beyond Omenihu, Karlaftis, and Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas City has the overachieving Mike Danna and a pair of wildcards in Malik Herring and Joshua Kaindoh. That would appear to leave a roster spot open at defensive end. The likelihood is that the Chiefs carry five of them into the 2023 season. Might there be room for Frank Clark to return to the team on a much friendlier contract? Some would argue that at this stage, the value simply isn’t there for him to come back to Kansas City.
Certainly, Clark’s regular season production leaves something to be desired. His best season for the Chiefs was in 2019 when he posted eight sacks and 37 tackles (12 of which were tackles for a loss). That would be a year that culminated in his first of three Pro Bowl seasons in Kansas City. His most significant contributions have always been in the postseason for KC. In four seasons, Clark amassed 10.5 sacks in the playoffs. To put that into perspective, that’d put him at 7th on the all-time list of postseason sacks. The veteran, affectionately known as “the shark,” had 2.5 on his way to a second championship this past postseason tournament.
Perhaps Clark’s most unrecognized contribution to the 2022 team was the work with then-rookie George Karlaftis last offseason. That kind of thing, coupled with excellent coaching from defensive line coach Joe Cullen, could accelerate the growth and maturation of Uzomah. Last season, the Chiefs were the league’s No. 2-ranked pass rush. Having Clark back makes this an even deeper position group that can withstand an injury or two. Just last year, the Chiefs lost Tershawn Wharton on the defensive interior. Fortunately for them, Khalen Saunders was there to help pick up the slack.
Clark brings championship experience, leadership, and an old-school defensive mentality to the table. It’s impossible to undersell how important that can be for a young cast of defensive players. Even one that recently won the Super Bowl. He may never get home as often as he used to, but he still generates a lot of pressure and has enough juice to play significant snaps.
Currently, Spotrac has Clark’s value at $12.4 million dollars per year. I believe that’s far too rich for Kansas City’s blood, but a less generous, one-year deal could be worth considering for both sides. Clark loves head coach Andy Reid and the city of Kansas City. Hopefully, when the smoke clears, he’ll be right back at One Arrowhead Drive as the team begins its quest to defend its title.