The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers have expressed interest in Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford, who the Chiefs have franchise tagged at the rate of $15.44 million for the 2019 season.
The fact that Ford is still available for trade after the team released Justin Houston Sunday is probably the most interesting thing about this—I think many of us (myself included) assumed that the Chiefs would part ways with one of them but not both this offseason.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer weighed in with his Ford take in his weekly column, Monday Morning Quarterback.
BREER: As I understand it, with new DC Steve Spagnuolo in town, Ford might not have a home in the base defense or even the early-down sub packages, because of his issues holding up against the run. That’s not to say Ford can’t play for Spagnuolo—he’s a high-end pass rusher, and in today’s NFL there’s great value in that, even if it’s all you do. But if Ford will be just a situational player for Spags, it’s hard to justify giving him a contract in the range of what, say, Von Miller is making. Or even to pay him the $15.5 million attached to the linebacker tag (since he was a ’backer last year). From what I’m hearing, he would go for a second-round pick. The Packers and Niners remain in the mix, but both want to wait until after the first wave of free agency is complete, so they can take a look at pass rushers there, before getting more serious on the Chiefs star.
If the Chiefs are able to trade Ford to either the Packers or 49ers, the $15.44 million currently attached to him comes off the books. I have been all for keeping Ford on the franchise tag (one-year deal) after by far his best season while also considering his injury history.
But if Ford will genuinely be a situational player for Spags, the Chiefs can under no circumstances accept that cap hit. They are too far up against it as it is. Knowing Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, he’ll want that money free sooner rather than later so he can be aggressive in the free agent market, which officially opens on Wednesday (Monday at 11 a.m. Arrowhead Time marks the beginning of the legal tampering period).
NBC Sports’ Peter King “put himself in Veach’s shoes” in his weekly column, Football Morning in America.
KING: My guess—just a guess—is the Chiefs would be open to taking a low second-round pick or high three for him. If they got, say, the 60th pick in a defensive-line rich draft, they’d be investing about four years and $4.8-million in cap dollars there (or in a pick somewhere in the first three rounds to replace Ford) instead of the four years and maybe $70-million in Ford … and they’d be able to use their money to go get a needed player at another position in free agency like C.J. Mosley or Earl Thomas. You know what this is, at least in part? It’s the Patriot Effect. You see New England let go of valuable vets every year and still win. I do believe there is some of that in play with teams dangling their franchise guys. Footnote on Dee Ford that should not be forgotten: He led all edge players in snaps (1,022) last year.
Nobody in Kansas City likes the New England Patriots, but trust me when I say that getting compared to them when it comes to personnel moves is a very good thing.
The connections to inside linebacker CJ Mosley, who the Ravens opted not to tag, and safety Earl Thomas make sense. Spagnuolo was on the Ravens defensive staff (as an assistant in 2013, then secondary coach in 2014) that coached the four-time second-team All-Pro in Mosley, and Veach showed interest in Thomas before the trade deadline last season. Kansas City couldn’t trade for Thomas after he broke his leg.
We had been hearing second-round pick for Ford last week and this is the first sighting of the Chiefs willing to accept a “high third-round pick.” This appears to be more about getting Ford’s franchise tag off the books than anything else.
It should be an exciting two weeks.