Now that the Seahawks have quarterback Russell Wilson signed through 2023, the biggest mystery about their offseason is what they are going to do with defensive end Frank Clark.
His future remains uncertain, leading to rumors that he could be traded.
At least one part of that equation appeared to get some clarity Saturday in a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who wrote that the Seahawks are asking for package that “would need to include at least a first-round pick.”
That might be a stiff price to pay for Clark, which might decrease the odds of a trade occurring.
The reason that could be seen as a prohibitive asking price is twofold.
One, as former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum tweeted shortly after Schefter’s tweet: this week’s NFL draft is regarded as particularly deep in pass rushers.
“While Clark is a talented player, given the depth of DE’s in this draft, teams needing a DE, likely would rather draft a pass rusher, which is a more cost effective alternative, than paying Clark and giving up a high pick,” wrote Tannenbaum, a former general manager of the Jets and vice president of football operations for the Dolphins who now works for ESPN.
And two, as Tannebaum noted, any team acquiring Clark would then face the same quandary the Seahawks are in now – how much to pay Clark to keep him for the long term? No team would want to give up anything substantial for Clark without assurances he is going to stick around for the long haul.
Clark, recall, received a franchise tag in March from the Seahawks that guarantees him $17.1 million for the 2019 season once he signs it (he has yet to put pen to paper).
However, Clark would prefer a long-term deal, and probably would like to get one similar to the contract recently signed by DeMarcus Lawrence of Dallas, a five-year deal worth up to $105 million that includes $65 million guaranteed.
Clark has one more sack (35) in one fewer NFL season than Lawrence, and is coming off a season statistically just a little bit better in the marquee pass-rushing stats – he had 13 sacks in 2018 to Lawrence’s 10.5, and 27 quarterback hits to Lawrence’s 23.
General manager John Schneider acknowledged on Thursday that the Seahawks are listening to trade offers for Clark.
“We are always trying to understand what the landscape is throughout the National Football League,’’ he said. “If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing our job. We can’t ever have our head in the sand with anything. But we love Frank, obviously. That’s why we franchised him.’’
Indeed, Schneider said the Seahawks budgeted to pay Clark his franchise tag number this season – all of it would count against the salary cap in 2019 – so they don’t need to make a move just to clear out cap space.
The Seahawks can also drive a hard bargain in asking for a first-round pick, because they can also be patient.
That deep defensive end corps in the draft means Seattle could well take a pass rusher this year to groom as a potential replacement for Clark – the Seahawks have the 21st pick in Thursday’s first round, though they do not have a second-round pick due to the Duane Brown trade in 2017.
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