Speaking from the podium at the 2023 NFL Draft combine on Tuesday afternoon, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and Brett Veach fielded questions about the future of veteran pass rusher Frank Clark.
While Clark is widely regarded as a leader in the clubhouse and well-liked by his teammates and coaches, his production has not warranted the $28 million cap hit he is set to make next season — especially when you consider that the Chiefs can save $21 million of those dollars by cutting him this offseason.
When Veach was asked about Clark, he acknowledged the Chiefs' need to maintain cap flexibility to remain competitive.
"We'll probably, to a certain extent, need some cap space," acknowledged Veach. "We have a long history with [Clark] and his agent, too, so he'll be one of the many conversations we have this week; we can look forward to getting with him and see if we can work something out that makes sense for both parties."
Last offseason, Clark agreed to a contract restructure that cleared more than $12.6 million in cap space. Only time will tell if Clark will be open to something similar in 2023. According to Spotrac, his 2022 restructure contained incentives that allowed him to earn an additional $6.8 million for last season — $1.5 million of which was tied to the Chiefs' postseason success.
As for Reid, he has the benefit of not having to make these tough decisions. When he was asked about Clark, he said that he loved Clark and wouldn't mind keeping him around.
"I actually talked to him at the parade — that's where I ended up talking to him," remembered Reid. "He had to do some stuff for the actual exit physical, but I had a good talk with him. I love Frank Clark. It's just you know, Veach has got to juggle all these different things going on, and but you know Frank is a top-notch guy. I love him, love him to death."
If Clark believes the Chiefs are in a position to run it back next year and threaten for another title, it might make financial sense for him to stay in Kansas City instead of taking more money upfront to start over with another team.
Then again, that's easy to say when you're not the one walking away from the possibility of millions of dollars.