Packers, 49ers express interest in Chiefs LB Dee Ford

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When the Kansas City Chiefs slapped the franchise tag on premier pass rusher Dee Ford on Monday, they did so willing to part with the linebacker if a market developed for his services.

It appears one has.

Two NFC rivals, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, have expressed interest in acquiring Ford, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Saturday.

Ford is slated to make around $15.4 million on the tag in 2019, a price tag that the Packers ($36 million in cap space) and 49ers ($66.7 million) are clearly both willing and able to pay, at least for this season.

Rapoport reported Tuesday that Kansas City was willing to trade Ford for a second-round pick, as the 3-4 outside linebacker might no longer be as big a factor in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3 defense.

While there are questions surrounding Ford's fit with the Chiefs, there's no denying his talent and upside. The linebacker contributed to a feverish Chiefs pass rush last season with 13 sacks and a league-high seven forced fumbles.

Green Bay has openly been in the market for an edge rusher, and Ford could be a defining member of Mike Pettine's defense with the Packers. San Francisco boasts a burgeoning defensive line, but similarly lacks an explosive pass rusher on the ends.

Whether a trade for Ford can be executed remains to be seen. Trading franchise-tagged players goes against the spirit of the tag and could result in a player grievance over a team's unwillingness to participate in a good-faith effort to negotiate a new deal if the traded player so chooses. But such a transaction has happened before.

The Miami Dolphins placed Jarvis Landry on the receiver tag just six days before trading him to the Cleveland Browns during last year's free agent frenzy. Landry had no problems with and in fact welcomed the swap; he signed a long-term extension with the Browns less than one month later.

With the top-tier pass rusher market dry as a desert well following Monday's franchise-tag blitz, Ford will remain a unique and desirable bargaining chip and trade target up to and until the July 15 deadline to sign tagged players to long-term deals.

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