Don't cry because it's over between the Chiefs and defensive end Frank Clark; smile because it happened.
Kansas City officially released the postseason playmaker on Tuesday, bidding farewell with a social media sendoff fit for a king.
Four seasons, two Lombardi trophies. Thank you, Clark the Shark pic.twitter.com/FUOKCUDDX1— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) March 7, 2023
"The Shark" cemented his legacy here in Chiefs Kingdom with his play and his personality," general manager Brett Veach wrote in a statement, released alongside a 78-second tribute video.
The move leaves Kansas City with $7.67 million of dead cap money — according to Spotrac — but frees up close to $21 million of room in 2023.
"These decisions are never easy, but we wish him the best as he continues his career," Veach wrote of the 29-year-old pass rusher, who figures to command plenty of attention on the open market.
"We appreciate the work he put in to help get us there," head coach Andy Reid added.
In four seasons, Clark helped get Kansas City over the mountaintop twice, as he collected 34 total sacks and three Pro Bowl appearances en route to two Lombardi trophies.
"He'll always be a part of our history here," finished Reid.
No longer figuring into Kansas City's immediate future, Clark's Chiefs legacy lives on through the younger players he mentored.
Rookie defensive lineman George Karlaftis, who collected 6.5 sacks in the team's last 10 games, often praised the 2015 second-rounder for guidance during grueling St. Joe training camp sessions.
"He invested time in our younger players to help them grow," Andy Reid wrote in a farewell statement. "It just shows you how passionate he is about the game."
"Love you boy. Forever my Vet," position mate Khalen Saunders tweeted Monday in reaction to Clark's release.
Love you boy. Forever my Vet ❤️ https://t.co/nMocId28CO— Binky 2Times (@khalenNOTkaylen) March 7, 2023
Clark's brash personality and no-nonsense demeanor helped him connect with teammates, coaches and fans throughout his Chiefs tenure.
No big postseason win for the Frank Clark-era Kansas City Chiefs was complete without a viral soundbite.
"They must not know who I am yet."
"I smell blood in the water."
"Man, if they don't take their bum asses back to Cincinnati."
Acquired from Seattle before the 2019 season, Clark's bloated contract and sometimes-selective motor drew ire. Clark earned close to $77.5 million in four seasons with the Chiefs, close to $37 million more than tight end Travis Kelce over the same time.
Nagging injuries paired with a September 2021 no-contest conviction for gun possession sidelined the edge rusher for eight regular-season games. If the end of the 2021 season served as Clark's rock bottom with Kansas City, the following season was his magnum opus — as he rekindled the missing spark along the trenches.
A summer of shedding red meat and liquor paid dividends for Clark as KC finished second in the league in sacks (55).
Delivering in some of the Chiefs' most critical playoff moments, Clark pressed through criticism, etching a special place in the hearts of many around the Kingdom.
His first-half sack of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in the 2022 AFC Championship game helped earn his third career Lamar Hunt trophy — the award his team was denied by a key mistake by his predecessor.
Most Chiefs fans replied favorably when asked if they foresee a reunion, and that's not entirely out of the realm of possibility. NFL Network's James Palmer cited the relationship between Reid and Clark as a reason why he could eventually return.
The #chiefs plan to release pass rusher Frank Clark per source. There is the chance he returns to KC. The relationship between Clark and Andy Reid is a special one. But Clark should get plenty of interest on the open market considering his ability to make game changing plays— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 6, 2023
But should "The Shark" just keep on swimming, Kansas City should just smile and wave, saying "see you later" until a potential "Ring of Honor" induction sometime down the road.