Chiefs will place franchise tag on veteran defender Dee Ford



March 4, 2019 - 10:06 AM

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford celebrates slapping the ball away from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and recording a sack on Oct. 21, 2018, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

INDIANAPOLIS — Linebacker Dee Ford could receive the Chiefs’ franchise tag this weekend.

A league source told The Star on Saturday afternoon that the official paperwork hasn’t gone through, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier in the day that the Chiefs had placed the tag on Ford.

The organization has been vocal in its desire to tag the five-year veteran, with a league source saying Saturday that it’s “extremely likely” the tag is applied before the NFL’s March 5 deadline.

The NFL’s franchise tag amounts to a one-year contract for Ford, who has played all five of his pro seasons in Kansas City. The tag would pay him the average of the top five players at his position.

As an outside linebacker, Ford would be due a projected $15.44 million next year, according to If he’s labeled as a defensive end in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s new scheme, he’ll be owed $17.13 million.

Schefter also reported that the Chiefs are expecting to play with Ford in the upcoming season. But with their pending switch to a 4-3 scheme under Spagnuolo, who was hired after the Chiefs’ season-ending loss to the New England Patriots, the team will also listen to trade offers.

The tag would prevent Ford from becoming a free agent and give the two sides until July 15 to agree to a multi-year extension. If a deal isn’t worked out by that point, Ford could only sign a one-year contract.

Ford is coming off his best season, having recorded 51 total tackles and 13 sacks in 2018. His 13 sacks matched a career high set in Ford’s 2016 season. Though he’s been plagued with injuries throughout his career, Ford didn’t miss a game in 2018. It was the first season since his rookie year in 2014 that he saw action every week.

“He was at the top of his game,” general manager Brett Veach said recently. “Really, when we drafted Dee (Ford) a few years ago, all those things that we envisioned for him, he kind of showed that he was that player.”

The 27-year-old outside linebacker was taken with the 23rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

At 6-2, 252 pounds, Ford was converted from a 4-3 weak-side defensive end at Auburn to an outside linebacker in the NFL. With the Chiefs’ looming scheme change, there’s a good chance that he’ll be moved back to his college position.

Ford isn’t worried about his fit in the new-look defense, though.

“I was a 4-3 end first,” Ford said. “It’ll be nothing for me to press play and go back to those days.”