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Dee Ford’s health could be a big question for the Chiefs this offseason

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to have an interesting decision this offseason with LB Dee Ford. The Chiefs announced last summer they exercised Ford’s fifth-year option which would cover the 2018 season. Let’s talk about what that means.

The fifth-year option is new to the 2011 CBA and is in there for first round picks only. The standard rookie deal is four years so this is an extra year for teams if they want it.

However, it comes at a cost. For top 10 draft picks, the fifth year is the average of the top 10 highest paid players at their position. For the rest of the first round, it’s the average of the third through 25th highest paid players at that position.

For Dee Ford, that number is expected to be $8.7 million. That’s the cap hit for keeping Ford next season. (If he were a top 10 pick, it would be over $12 million).

The fifth-year option is guaranteed — for injury only. That means, if Ford can’t pass a physical in March 2018 (the start of the new league year), the Chiefs are on the hook for that $8.7 million. Ford had a back injury all season and ended it on injured reserve. This could be a problem for the Chiefs if he isn’t healthy.

The fifth-year option is not guaranteed for skill. That means that, if Ford is healthy and can pass a physical, they can cut him before March 2018 and incur no cap hit if they want.

So, really, we need to know if Ford is healthy. If he is, the Chiefs are going to have an interesting decision to make. If he’s not healthy, the decision may already be made for the Chiefs.