The Chiefs have exercised outside linebacker Dee Ford’s fifth-year option, general manager John Dorsey revealed Monday, leaving him under contract through the 2018 season.
“That was a no-brainer decision,” Dorsey explained in his annual post-draft teleconference with reporters. “We had known all along we were going to exercise the option … I just wanted to prudently think about it, just wanted to take this morning to assess the situation and how it turned out in the draft.
“I think Dee has a fine future in this organization.”
The new collective bargaining agreement allows teams to add another year to the contracts of first-round draft picks. The period to exercise those options began on Jan. 2.
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The Chiefs had until May 3 to exercise the option on Ford, who was taken 23rd overall in 2014. It will cost the Chiefs approximately $8.7 million in 2018, according to salary cap expert Joel Corry.
The salary, however, is guaranteed only for injury, and the Chiefs can still conceivably work out a long-term contract with Ford if they choose.
Ford had one year left on his original rookie contract and will have a 2017 salary cap number of $2.5 million.
After spending his first two years as a backup, Ford produced a breakthrough 2016 season, leading the Chiefs with 17 quarterback hurries and 10 sacks while recording 38 total tackles in 15 games, 14 of them starts.
“I want to see continued growth,” Dorsey said. “I want to see him continue to play like he did in ’16 and even better. I want to be able to see him play all 16 games at the level he played at early on, and I think he’s willing to do that.”
Ford spent part of this offseason in Atlanta working out with pass-rush guru Chuck Smith, which Dorsey expects to help Ford.
“That’s always good for us,” Dorsey said. “He’s trying to hone his craft and become that professional — which he is — which we always talk about.”
Ford had 10 sacks through the Chiefs’ first nine games, but he went sack-less in the last eight games of the season. This, however, did not bother Dorsey.
“He did a good job of being productive,” Dorsey said. “The sack numbers and ability to play the run speak for themselves.”
The Chiefs took a player that some considered an edge rusher in the recently competed draft, Villanova’s Tanoh Kpassagnon. But Dorsey said the 6-foot-7, 289-pound Kpassagnon profiles as a five-technique defensive end, not an outside linebacker, in the Chiefs’ 3-4 scheme.