Following the finalization of his five-year, $104 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs late last week, there was just thing left for the Chiefs newest defensive end, Frank Clark, to do: formally meet the local press — which he did alongside head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach in an introductory press conference that took place last Friday.
While it was a momentous event for all involved, it was also the satisfying culmination of months of hard work put in by Veach to acquire Clark—a player he’d had his eyes on for a while.
“Our plan was to try to get Frank Clark,” Veach said. “I told the guys, ‘Look, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get him. If Seattle doesn’t tag him he’s going to cost a lot of money. Right? If they do tag him, we’re going to have to have some equity to get him.’ This was our plan all along. This was a guy we targeted, and you guys know I’m rather persistent.”
That persistence paid off — especially when coupled with the most significant selling point in all of the NFL at Veach and the Chiefs’ disposal: Patrick Mahomes.
“When we find someone we like, we find a way to go get him. We did that with Patrick Mahomes and I told him (Frank Clark) that story. I said, ‘We didn’t have a first round pick last year and it was for the league MVP.’ I told Frank this year I’m having those same conversations with coach (Andy Reid) and [Chiefs Chairman and CEO] Clark [Hunt] about Patrick that I’m having with Frank. Pat’s an elite player and Frank’s an elite player, but again he just doesn’t have any weaknesses to his game.”
And a veteran edge rusher with zero weaknesses is exactly what the Chiefs, now under entirely new defensive leadership, will need to help them move their defense from the 24th-overall ranking to the top 20 or even top 10, which is what Clark plans to help do.
“I feel like we’re going to be better than 24th in the league on defense,” Clark said confidently. “I feel like last year, for a program that I wasn’t a part of, but I had a chance to look at from the outside in, I’m seeing an explosive offense on that side where you’ve got a guy like Patrick Mahomes. He’s doing everything he can to win games. You’ve got a whole group around him and he’s leading this group and this team at a young age and that’s just hats off to a young guy like him.”
Clark can’t wait to begin working with this particular group of players, one he believes he is ready to lead.
“I feel like I bring a type of attitude and swagger with my play that I feel like every coach loves and I feel like my teammates will love,” Clark said when asked what he’ll bring to the Chiefs team. “I feel like it’s infectious. When you can play and make plays on the field, and then bring other players with you, I feel like that’s the key. I feel that’s when you become a great player. Not just about your individual stats, but when you can attribute and help in a whole other manner, which helps out players on your team, that’s when I feel like you’re doing your job.”
And while Clark is confident in the role he’ll play amongst his teammates, he is a little less clear as to the job new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have for him.
“You never know,” Clark said, when asked how he’s going to fit in Spagnuolo’s system. “That’s the great thing about it all because you’re coming into something new. You’re coming into a place where you got a legend in a coach. You got a few legends as players. You got a great high-powered offense but the real question is, what’s the defense going to do?”
“And that’s totally fine and that’s expected,” he said. “When you go from one of the worst defenses in the league, you’re going to have all these questions. The only thing I can do is let my play do the talking, and my actions off the field. If I can control that and I can do everything on that, I know everything else is going to handle itself, especially inside our defensive locker room.”
So what will the new-look Chiefs defensive locker room — and chemistry amongst the players — be like now with addition of Clark?
Well, that all comes down to one thing: the word, “respect.”
“I respect everyone’s craft for what they do here,” Clark said earnestly. “I feel like that’s all you need to know. I don’t know a lot of them personally, obviously, because I was just in Seattle for the last four years, but I respect their game. It’s a few players who you know a little bit more than others, of course, but it’s all respect and it’s all love.”
Another individual Clark respects and looks forward to working with is the Chiefs’ new defensive line coach, Brendan Daly.
“Coach Daly is an awesome coach,” Clark said. “He’s got four Super Bowl rings. It’s not a lot of talking he needs to do. It’s obvious that his system works—the things he does. I’m just looking forward to being with coach and helping him—helping take a little bit of a load off of him.”
And the underlying reason? Well, for Clark, that’s simple.
“Cause I want the sack record.”