KANSAS CITY, Mo. –The Kansas City Chiefs ended the saga of linebacker Dee Ford’s back injury, placing the 26-year-old pass rusher on injured reserve, scuttling a frustrating season for the fourth-year linebacker that lasted parts of just six games.
Ford picked up 13 tackles on the season, including two sacks along with a forced fumble and a pass broken up. The injured reserve designation all but ends the season for Ford. He would be eligible for a designation to return only if the Chiefs made it to Super Bowl weekend.
The Chiefs moved swiftly to fill Ford’s roster spot, inking defensive tackle Justin Hamilton to a contract. Hamilton played three games for the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season. He picked up two tackles with a half sack and a quarterback hurry.
The move adds further mystery and intrigue to Ford’s injury situation and contract status. Head coach Andy Reid described Ford earlier this week as “still day-to-day” with the back injury. Ford last played on Oct. 30 against the Denver Broncos.
Ford played this season under the fourth year of his rookie contract with a base salary of $957,704. He accounts for $2,595,950 against this season’s salary including his pro-rated signing bonus as well as workout and roster bonuses.
The Chiefs picked up the fifth-year option of Ford’s rookie contract earlier this year. The option carries with it a $8.718 million salary for the 2018 season. That salary is guaranteed for injury. It becomes fully guaranteed if Ford remains on the team’s roster on the first day of the 2018 league year in March.
If Ford’s injury prevents him from passing a physical and playing during the 2018 season, the Chiefs would be on the hook for the full value of his salary for next season.
Ford heading to injured reserve leaves the Chiefs with four outside linebackers remaining on the roster. Justin Houston has started all 12 games on the left side of the defense and played 91.4 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Frank Zombo started six games in Ford’s absence, and has 57.7 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Tamba Hali recently returned to the team from the physically unable to perform list and has played 36 snaps in two games. Rookie Tanoh Kpassagnon saw his most playing time yet this season last week against the Jets. He played 28 defensive snaps while also playing 13 special teams snaps.
Hamilton, a 2015 undrafted free agent from Louisiana-Lafayette, originally signed with the Buffalo Bills. He spent stints with Green Bay and Seattle before joining the Eagles this season.