The Kansas City Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions with one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.
However, salary cap issues could force Kansas City to make a difficult decision this offseason that will impact their defense.
Heading into March, the Chiefs are $3 million over the salary cap. It’s an issue for an organization that is determined to keep left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and has an interest in retaining impending free agents like Andrew Wylie, Juan Thornhill, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jerick McKinnon.
Kansas City could create some cap room by tweaking Patrick Mahomes contract, offering him an adjusted deal that elevates his bonuses with quarterback salaries skyrocketing.
However, there is a more direct way to create significant financial freedom. Nate Taylor of The Athletic listed defensive end Frank Clark as the most logical candidate to become a cap casualty on the Chiefs’ roster.
A year after restructuring his contract, the pass rusher could be released outright this offseason. From a financial standpoint, cutting Clark is the best move for the team. Designating him as a pre-June 1 release would erase $21 million off the Chiefs’ cap liabilities for next season.
That figure could allow Kansas City to re-sign two of its top free agents before they hit the open market.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Clark ranks third in all-time playoff sacks and he recorded four quarterback hits with 2.5 sacks during the recent Super Bowl run.
Taylor does leave open the possibility of Clark being released and then later re-signing with the Chiefs. While there is a risk of losing him to another team, especially a Super Bowl contender, the $21 million in cap savings would likely make it a worthwhile gamble for Kansas City.