Sources: Chiefs tag LB Ford but talks continue

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Dee Ford on Monday, but with a planned change to a 4-3 defensive scheme, the team is listening to trade offers for the outside linebacker, sources told ESPN.

The Chiefs intend to switch their base defensive scheme to a 4-3 under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, which likely would mean a move to defensive end for Ford, who played that position in college before moving to linebacker for Kansas City. It is possible he could be more valuable in a 3-4 scheme elsewhere.

The one-year franchise tender for outside linebackers next season is just over $15.4 million. Ford made about $8.7 million last season after the Chiefs exercised the fifth-year option of the contract he signed as a rookie in 2014.

Ford, who will turn 28 on March 19, finally became the player in 2018 that the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted him in the first round out of Auburn. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career and had a career-high 13 sacks. He was also selected to play in the Pro Bowl for the first time.

He said late in the regular season that he'd sign the one-year franchise tender if selected, calling the decision a "no-brainer." And the team's decision to do so didn't come as a surprise.

"When we drafted Dee a few years ago, all those things that we envisioned for him, he kind of showed that he was that player," general manager Brett Veach said recently. "We are excited about bringing him back."

The wait took some time. In his first four seasons, Ford had a total of 17.5 sacks -- 10 of which came during a nine-game stretch in 2016. Otherwise, until 2018, Ford had 7.5 sacks to show for his other 42 games.

Ford ended his best season with his least productive game. He had no sacks or tackles in the AFC Championship Game loss to the New England Patriots, and he was penalized for lining up offside on a play that negated an interception in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

The interception could have allowed the Chiefs, who had a four-point lead at the time, to run out the clock. Instead, the Patriots continued their drive to a go-ahead touchdown and eventually won in overtime.

ESPN's Adam Teicher contributed to this report.