KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the Chiefs moving to a new defensive scheme and coordinator in 2019, sweeping away remnants of the past continued on Tuesday as the club agreed to send pass rusher Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a second-round selection in 2020.
The 49ers and the Chiefs getting together on a trade hinged on two conditions: the Chiefs wanted a second-round draft pick in return, and the 49ers needed to negotiate a contract extension with Ford. That impasse apparently cleared Tuesday, with Ford and the 49ers reportedly agreeing on a five-year deal worth $87.5 million.
Neither the trade nor Ford's extension can be officially completed until the new league year begins at 3 p.m. Central time Wednesday.
The Chiefs placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Ford on March 4, which required a contract tender of $15.44 million for the 2019 season. The trade will wipe that that off the books, adding that amount to the team's available salary cap for the upcoming season.
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo appeared to leave bread crumbs suggesting Ford's departure last month. During a conference call with reporters, Spagnuolo left it up in the air regarding how Ford fit in with the team's move to a 4-3 defensive base.
“I’ll be perfectly honest, really haven’t figured that out yet,” Spagnuolo said. “I think myself, linebackers coaches and defensive line coaches would still like to figure that out. I don’t think we are ready to put a tag on it one way or the other.”
The Chiefs tied for the league lead in 2018 with 52 sacks. Ford accounted for 13 of those sacks. Justin Houston, whom the club released on Sunday, chipped in nine sacks while free agent Allen Bailey accounted for six. That's 28 of the team's 52 sacks that appear headed out the door for 2019, unless Bailey and the Chiefs agree on a new contract.
The leaves the Chiefs building their pass rush around interior defender Chris Jones, who racked up a career-best 15 1/2 sacks last season. Jones, who enters the final year of his rookie contract in 2019, remains a likely target for a contract extension. But a source told Chiefs Digest the Chiefs needed to resolve the status of Ford before securing an extension for Jones. With Ford, contract talks with Jones should escalate.