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Chiefs expected to use franchise tag on Dee Ford

Even though his untimely penalty cost the Chiefs a spot in the Super Bowl, Kansas City isn’t going to let Dee Ford leave in NFL free agency.

The team is planning on franchise-tagging the young pass-rusher, according to Brooke Pryor of The Kansas City Star. The one-year tag will pay Ford around $15.8 million next year unless the two sides can work out a long-term deal before then.

As Pryor points out, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach telegraphed the move when speaking to reporters a couple of weeks ago, saying:

“Obviously, Dee is a player that has done so much for us, in particular last year. We are excited about bringing him back.”

The Chiefs now have Ford locked into the roster, and will have until July 15th to negotiate a lucrative extension. If no deal is reached by then, Ford will play the 2019 season under the tag and become a free agent again next Spring.

The deadline to hit players with the tag is March 5th, and the Chiefs getting this out of the way so early suggests they never gave any real thought to letting Ford hit the open market. A 2014 first-round pick out of Auburn, Ford played outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme of Bob Sutton, and will now likely transition to defensive end in the 4-3 scheme of Steve Spagnuolo, who was hired to replace Sutton.

Ford was used mostly as a rotational reserve piece his first couple of years in the league but showed a ton of promise in 2016. A back injury limited him to six games in 2017, but he burst onto the scene as one of the best defensive players in the league this past year.

He started all 16 games for the Chiefs, racked up 13 sacks, and made the Pro Bowl. His season will be remembered mostly for the offsides penalty he had in the AFC Championship Game that negated a Tom Brady interception which would’ve essentially sealed a victory for the Chiefs, but he’s a great building block for Kansas City on defense. Expect them to try and lock him up with a lengthier contract soon.