The Kansas City Chiefs have two of the NFL’s better edge rushers in Justin Houston and Dee Ford, but it’s becoming increasingly likely that at least one of them will be playing for a different team in 2019.
At 27, Dee Ford is one of the NFL’s most dominant pass rushers, and the Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker is coming off of a career year.
Ford notched a whopping seven forced fumbles – by far the most in his five seasons in the league – and sacked opposing passers 13 times to set a new career-high (his previous record was 10.0 in the 2016 season).
Despite Ford’s fantastic 2018 campaign for the dominant Chiefs, the organization seems to be willing to part ways with the former first-round pick. In fact, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Good Morning Football that Ford might be available for a mere second-round pick.
Ahead of the start of free agency on March 13, the Chiefs slapped the franchise tag on Ford, who was their best impending free agent this offseason.
Ford will make $15.443 million under the franchise tag, which is, in all honesty, a reasonable price for a player capable of forcing seven turnovers and recording more than 10 sacks in a given season.
The Chiefs could very well keep Ford this season despite the switch to a 4-3 front under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but he might not have a future in Kansas City beyond 2019 if he isn’t traded.
However, because his asking price appears to be so low, it would be a shock to see Ford playing for the Chiefs under the franchise tag in 2019.
A tag-and-trade makes Ford more affordable for interested teams, since signing away a franchised player would cost two first-round picks.
Any trade involving Ford would likely require the receiving team to have a deal in place with the outside linebacker, but there are likely many teams willing to make that happen financially.
Even though Ford could be obtained, per Rapoport, for just a second-round pick by a Chiefs team that doesn’t sound willing to pay him his worth in a new scheme, that doesn’t mean he will be traded for just a second.
If enough teams are interested – and they probably will be – his value will only increase in trade discussions. The top two impending free agent pass rushers, Jadeveon Clowney and DeMarcus Lawrence, were both franchised by the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys, respectively.
Still, Ford is coming off of a significantly better season than either of those two players, and he has the most upside for an interested organization.
The New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Carolina Panthers could all use Ford, but the list of interested teams should be endless.
Out of all the teams looking for a pass rusher, the Jets and Packers need an upgrade the most and also figure to be active in free agency this year.
Trading for Ford would require parting ways with a draft pick, which is much easier for a contending team like Pittsburgh or Carolina to do (the pick will be lower), so the Packers might be a better fit for Ford.
In fact, they might be the best fit for Ford on paper, especially if the Chiefs initial asking price is low.
Rapoport maintains that the Chiefs would “be happy” to keep Ford in 2019 under the tag, but if they’ve set the bar at just a second-round pick, then that’s most likely not happening.
In a league where edge rushers regularly get taken in the first round, including Ford back in 2014 after shining in the SEC for Auburn, Ford is a proven commodity who could help push a playoff team over the edge.