The Kansas City Chiefs acquired pass rusher Frank Clark from the Seattle Seahawks for a package of picks Tuesday, then quickly agreed with him on a $105 million, five-year contract, as they continue to overhaul their much-maligned defense.
The Chiefs sent the No. 29 overall pick in this year’s draft and a second-round pick in 2020 to Seattle, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke about the trade terms and contract details on condition of anonymity because they were pending a physical.
Clark planned to head to Kansas City to complete that in the next 48 hours.
The trade, first reported by the NFL Network, also includes a swap of third-round picks in this year’s draft. That means the Chiefs will move up eight spots on Friday night.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said last week that he was aggressively trying to upgrade the defense, and he acknowledge the window for winning a Super Bowl title began last season. That’s when Patrick Mahomes took over at quarterback and had an MVP season as a first-time starter, leading Kansas City to a third straight AFC West title and the conference championship game.
“We want to take the next step,” Veach said. “Certainly, it goes without saying our offense we pretty efficient last year and I think we are always looking to improve and get better.”
Seattle already had the 21st pick overall pick Thursday night, and now general manager John Schneider has an additional first-day selection as he begins rebuilding his own defense.
Clark was chosen by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2015 draft, though most agreed he was a first-round talent docked by off-the-field concerns. But he quickly became a dependable edge rusher, piling up 36 sacks over his first four seasons with a team-best 14 this past season.
The Seahawks placed the franchise tag on him after the season, but Clark had yet to sign the $17.128 million deal as rumors of a trade swirled. Several other teams also inquired about landing him ahead of the draft as Seattle tried to accumulate additional picks.
“This time, and the trade deadline, there’s some speculation about a lot of players,” Schneider said on Monday. “We’re involved in a lot of deals. We take a lot of pride in that. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t listening to everybody.”
Kansas City ultimately won the bidding for him.
Veach has spent most of the offseason rebuilding one of the league’s worst defenses, one that played a key role in their AFC title game collapse. They lost in overtime to New England when the Patriots won the coin toss, marched downfield and scored the winning touchdown in a 37-31 victory — never giving Mahomes and one of the NFL’s most potent offenses a chance with the ball.
In a matter of days, the Chiefs fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, hired new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and began sifting through their personnel as they switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 system.
They got rid of longtime safety Eric Berry and high-priced linebackers Justin Houston and Dee Ford, sending the latter to San Francisco for a second-round pick next year, and carved out enough cap space to find replacements. They signed safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Bashaud Breeland, linebacker Damien Wilson and defensive end Alex Okafor in free agency, then traded safety Eric Murray to former GM John Dorsey and the Cleveland Browns for defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
All told, the Chiefs have signed or traded for five new defensive starters.
“We didn’t win the Super Bowl,” Veach said, “so we can get better. I think all across the board, there is talent that we can acquire, and we can get more depth on both sides of the football. I think that’s what makes it fun and exciting. There’s certainly some specific areas that may be more apparent. But I think the things you do in free agency protect yourself in the draft, so you don’t have to take a player that you feel is a second- or third-round value in the first round.”
The Seahawks have also been busy retooling their defense this offseason, adding defensive ends Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard as they shopped Clark. They are expected to continue to target help in the pass rush and the defensive backfield in the first couple of rounds of the draft.
The additional first-round pick Thursday night also gives Seattle some flexibility.
Schneider has a tendency to move around in drafts, and it’s possible the Seahawks could trade down and acquire additional picks. They still only have five selections overall, and in nine previous drafts in charge, Schneider has never made fewer than eight selections.