Kansas City Chiefs linebacker (for now) Dee Ford joined WFNZ in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday, one day before the NFL’s franchise tag window opened on Tuesday.
Charlotte hosts Nick Wilson and Josh Parcell checked in with Ford via phone to see how he would feel if the Chiefs opt to use the franchise tag on him. Ford’s comments mirrored what he said right after Kansas City’s season ended.
“I wouldn’t mind it,” Ford said. “We’re working toward removing the franchise tag in the future. A long-term deal is more suitable, especially [since] this is a 100-percent-guaranteed-injury industry. So we want to move toward that soon, but no one’s tripping about a franchise tag.”
Ford’s words came a little more than Chiefs general manager Brett Veach indicated that keeping Ford in Kansas City for 2019 would be a priority.
“When we drafted Dee a few years ago, all those things we envisioned for him, he showed that he was that player,” Veach said. “We are running a different scheme now, and Steve (Spagnuolo)—he actually started the process on Monday to go through the roster and look at these guys. Not knowing where they were drafted or how much money they’re making, just gives you a pure feel on strengths, weaknesses and how we can get better and then we’ll throw our dialogue in there with the other information in regard to what we can do to get creative in regard to structuring this thing from a cap standpoint. Obviously, Dee’s a player that had done so much for us, in particular, last year, that we’re excited about bringing him back.”
Wilson and Parcell asked Ford if the Chiefs have given any indication of their direction.
“Nah,” Ford said. “Obviously, I don’t even like discussing business, to be honest with you. I speak with my agent about it. They talk to my agent, then we discuss it. I like to get the business over and done with because the focus is really becoming champions and being the best at your craft. The focus is really not on the money and the contract. You do what you need to do. you’ll be taken care of, business-wise.”
Ford certainly “did what he needed to do” in 2018.
After an injury-ridden 2017 campaign, Ford came back to compile a career-high 13.0 sacks. Pro Football Focus graded Ford as league’s best pass rusher, and his total pressure count (86) led all qualifying EDGE defenders.
The potential of free agency has not changed Ford’s offseason plan.
“It’s nothing different as far as my routine, he explained. “I’m still in my offseason. I’ll be doing the normal things I do to get ready for next season. Where I land and things that happen to me in the offseason are pretty much out of my control. We have a couple options that we choose from, but in a nutshell, that’s it.”
The duo also asked Ford about the AFC title game and his critical offsides mistake that prevented the Chiefs from clinching a Super Bowl berth. Ford said that in-game, his first thought was to “do something to change the game.”
“I mean, it happened. It could have happened any other play but that one but it happened that play,” he laughed. “At the end of the day, you’re going to make mistakes in games and it was just a very unlucky circumstance for me, but I don’t pout [about] things too long. We still had opportunities, so I wanted to make something happen, and I was more disappointed that I really couldn’t make a big play to change the outcome of the game, really in the complete part of the game. That was my mindset—let’s make a play. Let’s make a play, let’s change the game. One big play would change everything.”
Ford said he was able to quickly move on from the game by discussing it with his inner circle.
Dee Ford put up big numbers in his contract year in KC pic.twitter.com/KQ2GEUKtNo— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 18, 2019
“I talked to the people who I normally [do],” he said. “I talked to my coaches; I talked to my teammates. I talked to my family—they are the core people who I always talk to. I think they were a little bit more sad than I was, to be honest with you.
“I guess they felt my hurt, but they’re not in my mind, so they hurt for me. But in my mind, I gave myself time to sort of pout about it and it hurts your heart at the end of the day. It stings. I know it’s just a game in a nutshell, but it hurts your heart, so I gave myself time to feel it, and then I erased it. Got to move on. That’s what champions do at the end of the day. Let’s focus on getting back. What can I do to help my team get back? That was pretty much my mindset. They felt great after they heard that, actually, because I don’t read things that are out and maybe some of my teammates or fans—they probably were hearing the noise outside. There’s going to be noise—this is what comes with the sport. It’s our nature at the end of the day. That what comes with it. I wasn’t too much paying to that. I was focused on moving on.”
The consensus among Chiefs fans seems to be that even despite his AFC title gaffe, they would happily welcome him back in 2019.
We could find out if that will be the case as early as Tuesday.