In the wake of the Kansas City Chiefs’ season-ending 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, there were players who were thinking about more than simply missing their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. For some, it might have been their last game in a Chiefs uniform.
Two such players — defensive end Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu — spoke to reporters after the game.
“I’ll remember the guys more than the season,” said Clark. “It’s really the guys in the locker room who I’ll always remember. You invest so much time in the building — and with these guys, you find some great friends in this game as well. It’s the guys — the relationships I’ve built within the lines and stuff like that — that I’m never going to forget about.”
Clark, however, is well aware of the practical aspects of his position with the team. In the eyes of many, his $25.8 million cap hit in 2021 — the team’s highest — wasn’t justified by his production on the field. In 2022, it will fall to $26.3 million. And more importantly, with Clark’s dead money at $12.9 million in the coming year, Kansas City could part ways with him and save $13.4 million against the cap.
But that doesn’t mean the 28-year-old Clark is anxious to leave.
“Man, Kansas City is home,” he said. “Kansas City is home. I bought a house here. My daughter goes to school here. It’s home, man. So I want to be here for the future — for the rest of my career — but unfortunately, the way business goes, things don’t happen the way you want them to happen all the time.”
Clark said that he would have a lot to do in the offseason that is just beginning. But for the time being, he doesn’t expect he’ll be a stranger.
“It ain’t going to be hard to keep up with me,” he promised.
The situation with Mathieu is a bit different. His three-year, $42 million contract with the Chiefs ended with Sunday’s final gun. Before the 2021 season began, it was widely thought that Kansas City would extend his contract — but it never happened. After the game, Mathieu — his voice cracking — said that he still hopes he’ll be able to stay.
“I hope so,” he said. “Ever since I came here, I’ve just tried to be the right kind of teammate. I tried to play my part. Obviously, it’s always that feeling that you could make more plays for your team. But I’m hoping it works out. I don’t have any control over that. I feel like everything that was in my control, I tried my best to handle it — and to do it with a smile.
“I love this team. I love this locker room. There’s a lot of people that I have great relationships with. I’m hoping.”