Chiefs deal draft picks for Seahawks' Frank Clark

Terez PaylorSenior NFL writer

The Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs reached a deal on a trade that sends Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs for their 2019 first-round draft pick, a 2020 second-rounder and a swap of third-round selections in this draft, a source told Yahoo Sports.

Clark, who has been franchise-tagged by the Seahawks, worked out a new deal with the Chiefs. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the two sides have agreed on a five-year, $105.5 million deal.

The Chiefs have an additional second-round pick in 2020 thanks to the trade of Dee Ford and are expected to retain the better of those picks. The surrendering of the 29th overall pick in this week’s draft means the Chiefs won’t make a selection in Round 1.

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Clark, 25, has consistently been one of the NFL’s best pass rushers the past three years, as he has totaled 32 sacks since 2016. In 2018, Clark racked up 41 tackles and was tied for seventh in the league in sacks with 13 and eighth in the NFL in hurries with 27.

For the Seahawks, the move comes over a week after they signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year, $140 million extension.

The Seahawks put the franchise tag on Frank Clark before nearing a deal with the Chiefs. (Getty Images)
The Seahawks put the franchise tag on Frank Clark before nearing a deal with the Chiefs. (Getty Images)

Dramatic move for Chiefs defense

In Kansas City, Clark becomes the edge-rush centerpiece of a unit that finished 31st in total defense in 2018 but will be guided by a new coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo, who is switching from the 3-4 scheme the Chiefs operated under the previous six years under former coordinator Bob Sutton.

The scheme change led to the offseason jettisoning of two longtime members of the Chiefs’ pass rush, as Ford was dealt to San Francisco for a 2020 second-round pick and Justin Houston was released. The Chiefs have added beefier defensive ends — a better scheme fit for Spagnuolo — since then, as they signed Alex Okafor to a three-year dealtraded safety Eric Murray to Cleveland for defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and signed Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year deal.

The addition of the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Clark — who fits the physical profile of the type of ends Spagnuolo likes — is the biggest of all. Clark’s deal is reportedly more than the five-year, $105 million extension that defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence signed with the Cowboys (which included $65 million guaranteed).

After a year in which the Chiefs finished 12-4 and fell a few plays short of the Super Bowl, Kansas City was willing to surrender draft assets for Clark as a part of its ongoing effort to go all-in on 2020, due to the club’s desire to put the best team possible around reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes right before he likely signs a mega-deal next offseason.

If Mahomes were to sign a mega-deal in January (the earliest an extension could be done), it will tie up a decent amount of salary-cap space for the near future, thus increasing the importance of drafting and developing cheap, cost-controlled talent.

The club would be betting that Clark’s youth (he turns 26 in June), energy and reliability (he played in 62 of a possible 64 regular-season games) will allow him to be a part of the team’s foundation for years.

On the field, Clark plays with a passion, enthusiasm and edge that the Chiefs have placed a high premium on since general manager Brett Veach took over in the summer of 2017, with the belief that those traits often lead to playoff success and generally help prevent the type of January failures the Chiefs have endured on that side of the ball since coach Andy Reid took over in 2013. It’s no coincidence that new safety Tyrann Mathieu, whom the Chiefs signed to a three-year, $42 million deal in March to be a defensive leader and tempo setter, has many of those same traits.

Clark’s past character concerns

The trade for Clark comes with risks for the Chiefs, particularly from a public relations point of view. Clark was kicked out of the University of Michigan in November 2014 following an arrest for domestic violence. After an investigation, the prosecuting attorney in the case determined that contrary to what the police report seemed to suggest, Clark did not strike his girlfriend. Clark instead pleaded to disorderly conduct and was taken by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft.

Since then, Clark has stayed out of trouble and blossomed into one of the league’s most productive pass rushers. The Chiefs would need Clark to remain on point on both counts, especially considering the team’s recent history regarding players with off-field issues.

This past November, the club released star running back Kareem Hunt after he was captured on video shoving and kicking a woman in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel, and police are currently investigating whether star receiver Tyreek Hill is involved in an alleged battery incident involving his 3-year-old son.

Regardless of how the Hill investigation shakes out — and even if he’s cleared, the NFL’s personal conduct policy is vague enough that the NFL still has the authority to discipline him — the Chiefs should be in the market for a wide receiver somewhere in this year’s draft, which starts Thursday.

But the acquisition of Clark frees up the Chiefs to go after other positions of need in the draft with their remaining seven picks in 2019.

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