Dee Ford on franchise tag: 'If it happens, it happens'

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Dee Ford is set up for a large payday if he hits the open market when free agency kicks off in March.

Ford, who recorded a career-high 13 sacks in 2018 and earned a Pro Bowl selection, should have plenty of suitors in need of an impact defensive player. But there is one spot Ford prefers over all others, and that's the opportunity to re-sign with the Chiefs.

"That's the option," Ford told NFL.com following Thursday's AFC practice. "Of course, that's home to me. I love the community and I'm just used to that environment, so I'll be blessed to be able to stay. We'll cross that bridge once when we get there."

Ford played the 2018 season under the fifth-year option, which paid a base salary of $8.7 million. He will surely command more in free agency given the premium placed on a position that can affect the pass rusher, and Ford emerged to be among the best in the past season.

Still, the Chiefs have options to keep Ford in place outside of signing him to a lucrative long-term deal, namely in the utilization of the franchise tag.

Ford previously said he wouldn't mind if the Chiefs took that route with him ahead of the league's new calendar year, and he double downed on his stance.

"That's out of my control," Ford said. "If it happens, it happens, and I don't mind it."

In the meantime, should Ford make a return to the Kansas City, he'll be playing for a new defensive coordinator in light of the Chiefs parting ways with Bob Sutton.

Sutton has been the only defensive coordinator Ford has known since entering the league in 2014 as a first-round pick out of Auburn, but the outside linebacker understands the business-like nature of the NFL.

"I was raised pretty much under Bob's system, so Bob is the coach that I'm used to, that I've known," Ford said. "So, it's always shocking, but it's a business. Bob's an excellent coach and he'll be fine."

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