The Kansas City Chiefs were a few plays away from playing in their first Super Bowl in 50 years in 2018, but were ultimately undone by a poor defense. One of the biggest offseason priorities for KC will be overhauling the defense, and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the Chiefs will pay to keep one of their best pass rushers.

According to Pelissero, the Chiefs will use the franchise tag on edge rusher Dee Ford. If they do not, he will be allowed to test free agency.

Ford performed well in what was a contract year for the outside linebacker. He notched a career-high 13 sacks and forced seven fumbles, as the Chiefs defense led the NFL in sacks. It was one of the only defensive statistical categories in which the Chiefs were not at the bottom of the league last year.

With the NFL putting a premium on getting after opposing quarterbacks, Ford figured to do well in free agency if the Chiefs let him go. It was previously reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that the Chiefs also plan to sign Jones and receiver Tyreek Hill to extensions soon.

In order to do that, the Chiefs will have some tough decisions to make to clear up salary cap room. The most obvious solution is to release Houston. The outside linebacker will carry the largest cap hit on the team in 2019, totaling $21.1 million. He was signed to a massive deal after notching 22 sacks in 2014, but has yet to record even 10 sacks in a season since then.

Former All-Pro safety Eric Berry could be another cap casualty this offseason. His contract takes up $16 million worth of cap space in 2019, which is not ideal for a player who missed most of 2017 and 2018 with injuries.

One or both of those moves could free up space to retain Ford and shore up the defense via free agency and the draft. Pelissero said the Chiefs will evaluate players based on their ability to fit into new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 scheme. Former coordinator Bob Sutton ran a 3-4 defense in all five of his seasons in Kansas City.

GettyImages-1060288394 Dee Ford #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs begins to rush the passer during the second half of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images