Chiefs officially acquire Frank Clark, sign him to five-year, $105.5 million deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo.— The Kansas City Chiefs announced their trade with the Seattle Seahawks for pass rusher Frank Clark shortly before the start of the NFL draft on Thursday night, then confirmed that they had signed him to a lucrative and controversial long-term contract.
The trade was agreed upon Tuesday, as was the $105.5 million, five-year deal, both of which became official once Clark passed his physical. The terms of the deal were told to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team does not discuss financial details.
Clark will be introduced during a news conference Friday.
“We believe Frank is a premier player in this league and an elite pass rusher,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “In his four seasons in Seattle, he established himself as a leader in the locker room, and we’re looking forward to bringing him here to help our defense.”
Kansas City sent its first-round pick, the No. 29 overall selection, along with a second-rounder next year to the Seahawks. The teams also swapped third-round picks this year.
That means the Chiefs do not select in the first round unless they trade back into it.
It wasn’t just the draft capital that the Chiefs gave up, nor the value of the contract, that has generated headlines in Kansas City. It’s also the fact that Clark arrives with plenty of baggage — he was kicked off his team at Michigan following a domestic violence case, had another legal incident while in school and was involved in a series of less serious troubles with the Seahawks.
The Chiefs have declined to discuss the background work they did on Clark, other than issuing a statement on Thursday. But the timing of the deal is particularly awkward in that it came the same week star wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s own domestic violence case returned to the spotlight.
On Wednesday, a suburban Kansas City prosecutor declined to press charges after he was unable to determine whether it was Hill or his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, who injured their 3-year-old son. Hill has maintained his innocence and an investigation by the Department of Children and Families is ongoing.
Then on Thursday night, a local TV station aired graphic audio of Hill and Espinal in which the two of them discuss hurting their child. Espinal accused Hill of “punching” the boy in the chest and using a belt on him for discipline, and Hill warned Espinal to be afraid of him.
The Chiefs and prosecutors did not respond to requests for comment on the case.
The Chiefs also released star running back Kareem Hunt late last season when a video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman in an Ohio hotel hallway. He was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and then signed by the Browns, though he remains suspended for the first eight games next season.
Given that history, it’s likely the Chiefs weighed the optics of signing Clark to a massive deal that includes $63.5 million guaranteed against the on-field production they can expect from him.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end has started 33 of 62 games over four seasons in the league, blossoming into one of the NFL’s brightest young pass rushers. He’s made 131 tackles and 35 sacks with eight forced fumbles and an interception, and had a career-best 13 sacks this past season.
Most importantly, Clark should fit nicely into the Chiefs’ new 4-3 defensive system.
The Chiefs have been busy rebuilding their defense after a historically bad performance last season, firing longtime coordinator Bob Sutton and hiring Steve Spagnuolo as his replacement. Spagnuolo intends to move away from a 3-4 scheme — a big reason why the Chiefs have retooled their roster.
Gone are longtime pass rushers Justin Houston and Dee Ford and popular safety Eric Berry. In their place, the Chiefs acquired through trades or free agency defensive ends Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah, linebacker Damien Wilson, playmaking safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
Now, they have added a 25-year-old pass rusher to the mix that could just be hitting his prime, and they are poised to make their first selection in the NFL draft on Friday night.
“We’re happy to add Frank to our team,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “Competing against him and watching his film, you can see how physical and impressive he is in both the run and the pass game. He’s young and has consistently played at a high level since he entered the league.”