KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark isn’t the type to be easily star stuck, but he admitted to a few fan-boy feelings for Kansas City’s newest arrival this week.
“I’m so thankful,” the 26-year-old Clark said of the Chiefs adding veteran defensive end Terrell Suggs off waivers from Arizona. “That’s honestly one of the reasons why I wear number 55. He was one of my favorite players, growing up and watching pass rushers, if you know anything about the early 2000s Baltimore Ravens’ defense.”
Suggs, 37, is playing his 17th — and possibly last — NFL season. He spent the first 16 seasons with Baltimore and ranks ninth all-time in league history with 138 career sacks.
Every eligible player with more sacks than Suggs has been elected to the Hall of Fame, an honor many expect he’ll eventually receive with a bust in Canton, Ohio.
“You're talking about an experienced guy who has been there and done it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He has won championships. He's a good person. He's been a leader throughout his career. You don't last this long in the league if you're not a quality player and person. That's what he brings to you."
With defensive end Emanuel Ogbah already on injured reserve, the Chiefs had a glaring need to add depth at the position when Alex Okafor also landed on IR with a torn pec after last week’s 23-3 win against Denver.
“I think that you're all aware that I had the pleasure of working with Terrell in Baltimore for two years,” first-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “I can tell you this, he is as passionate about football as anybody I've ever been around. He's a consummate pro. I respect all of that about him. I have a great deal of respect for him. He's a great one.”
Still, it’s a move as much about football as intangibles.
Suggs had 37 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in 13 games with the Cardinals this season.
“I would tell you that, off of tape, that he still can play,” Reid said. “He loves to play the game. He is one of those kinds of guys. He's arguably a future Hall of Famer, so we're glad to have him here.”
Reid indicated “there’s a good chance” Suggs will suit up Sunday when the Chiefs kick off at the Chicago Bears at 7:20 p.m. for Sunday Night Football on 41 Action News.
“He’s done a nice job,” Reid said. “He looks like he’s in good shape and moved around well. He picks things up fast, very meticulous on all the note-taking in meetings. It’s incredible. He puts it all down there and it’s something to watch, a guy that’s been around that long and how he goes about everything, down to a T. Impressive.”
Combined with that legendary prowess for preparation, Suggs’ familiarity with Spagnuolo’s scheme should help ease the transition.
“The most impressive thing, and I think all of our players got their eyeballs on it, too — you come into the meeting and he had a spiral notebook and he was taking notes,” Spagnuolo said. “That's Terrell Suggs. He's a pro. He wants to do well. He knows that knowing the defense is part of it.”
Safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is among the Chiefs’ chief defensive leaders this season, loves what Suggs brings to the team: “Veteran leadership for sure. I would probably say championship swagger, too. I feel like he’s a guy that’s played in this league a long time and had great success. He can still get it done.”
It’s all part of why the Chiefs were confident Suggs would be an asset, not a disruption in the locker room, even though he may have preferred a reunion with the Ravens after being released.
Either way, AFC West champion Kansas City is thrilled to have Suggs as it prepares for the postseason.
“I was very excited,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “Just to add someone like that at this point in the season who is going to come in and produce, I’m very excited to have that and, obviously with playing him last year, I understand how tough of a match up he is to play against.”