Kansas City Chiefs: With Dee Ford Being Tagged, Team Hopes to Facilitate Trade

Various media outlets on Saturday indicated the Kansas City Chiefs will place the franchise tag on linebacker Dee Ford. However, just because he’s getting the tag (for now), doesn’t mean he’ll line up for KC’s defense in 2019.

The debate about the future of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford will be a hot topic the next couple of weeks. Though general manager Brett Veach leaked the news that Ford will receive the franchise tag, Ford may not be on the roster after the new league opens later this month.

Ford is a great pass rusher, but he’s not an elite defender. Some will argue this point, but  I don’t put too much stock into statistics regarding quarterback pressures. Instead, I equate greatness to sack numbers and creating turnovers. Further, his postseason gaffe against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game (not to mention his lack of big plays in key situations) should cause the Chiefs to press the pause button on his return.

If that’s not enough to sway the pendulum, new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, doesn’t need a weakside linebacker who is virtually one-dimensional. The problem with Ford playing in the new 4-3 scheme is basic – he doesn’t fit the physical style of Kansas City’s 2019 defense.

The Chiefs are going to spend most of their upcoming free agent cash on defenders. Already potential targets are surfacing as possible candidates to join the defense. Spagnuolo’s emergence as the head coach of the defense adds an element that his unit will be aggressive, physical, and above all else will commit to stopping the run. That means Ford would have to expand his game, and he has only played a single season (2018) free of injury.

As we saw under Bob Sutton, Kansas City was horrific in all areas. So, what impact can Ford make beyond passing downs? Add that with the $15 million plus cap hit the Chiefs would make in placing the franchise tag on Ford, and it just doesn’t equate to a prudent move this defense needs to undo the mess Bob Sutton created.

Thus, as reported the Chiefs are actively shopping Ford and fellow linebacker Justin Houston in hopes of getting more draft picks. If accurate, Chiefs fans might be surprised what this team does with extra picks in hopes they can move up in the first round for an elite player on either side of the ball.

To my point, there are a couple of teams that would be an intriguing landing spot for Ford. Two of them (the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns) come to mind. Ford could be reunited with his former general manager, John Dorsey, in Cleveland, while the Jaguars need someone to replace Dante Fowler, Jr., who was traded in October to the Los Angeles Rams.

On the flip side of the debate, if the Chiefs cut or trade Houston, and work out a post-June 1st release of All-Pro Safety, Eric Berry, then Spagnuolo and Veach have some work to do finding pass rushers that will complement Chris Jones.

Regardless of what Veach does with Ford, Houston, or Berry, the bottom line is Spagnuolo has already made the Chiefs a better defense despite not coaching a single game. Again, they don’t need to be an elite bunch. At least, not with quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s quest for 60 touchdown passes next year. They simply need to make two or three defensive stops per game, creating working room to close out games in the third quarter instead of the white knuckling madness we’ve seen the last two years. By doing just that, Mahomes won’t feel that he has to carry the weight of the entire team on his shoulders.

Either way, I’m actually fine with keeping Ford. But not for a whopping $15M per season. If he was a true game-changer, and he didn’t have a lengthy injury history, I’d give Veach a wide birth in signing him to a long-term team friendly deal.

Yet, if the Chiefs really wanted to engage in a contract extension for Ford, they would have done it during his breakout 2018 season. Pass rushers are at a premium, but Ford is not that type of player who deserves money comparable to what his agent is asking for from the Chiefs.

In the end, I’d take the same picks the Chiefs got from the Los Angeles Rams for Marcus Peters to trade Ford. The good news is that numerous teams will be interested in Ford, which should create a solid market for his services.

Perhaps Veach can extract a late first round pick for Ford, but that’s wishful thinking.

So, as we hit March with two weeks before free agency begins, we all have to sit back and wait to see how the Chiefs can push their 2018 Championship quest into a 2019 Super Bowl title.

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