Seattle’s Frank Clark celebrates after sacking Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers during a Nov. 15, 2018 game in Seattle. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Seattle’s Frank Clark celebrates after sacking Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers during a Nov. 15, 2018 game in Seattle. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Seahawks place franchise tag on defensive end Clark

Seattle will continue working toward a long-term deal with Clark, but ensured he’ll stay for 2019.

  • By Bob Condotta The Seattle Times
  • Monday, March 4, 2019 8:54pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Bob Condotta

The Seattle Times

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said for months the team would not let defensive end Frank Clark, whose initial four-year rookie contract ran out after the 2018 season, get away.

The team made sure of that Monday afternoon — for at least the 2019 season, anyway — by placing the franchise tag on Clark, making him one of four edge rushers in an increasingly heated pass-rushing market to get the tag in the span of a few hours.

The Seahawks have been talking to Clark and his representatives for months and have been hoping to get a long-term deal done with the defensive end, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. But with those talks proving fruitless for now — the two sides will keep talking to try to get a long-term deal done — the Seahawks will use their tag on Clark to assure he stays with the team in 2019.

Seattle used the nonexclusive tag on Clark, which means he can negotiate with other teams in free agency but if he were to sign elsewhere the Seahawks could match the contract and keep him or get two first-round picks as compensation (and with two picks being such a stiff price to pay, logically no other team will sign Clark).

Getting the tag means Clark will receive a one-year contract at $17.128 million that is fully guaranteed but also counts fully against the team’s 2019 salary cap.

The deadline to use a tag for the 2019 season was Tuesday and teams can use it only once per year. The tag represents a big raise for Clark, who made $943,941 last season in the final year of a rookie contract that paid him $3.73 million overall. Still, Clark, who turns 26 in June, is hoping sooner rather than later to get a bigger payday and more long-term security, and that the tag can be viewed as a no-win situation for either side — the player doesn’t get the long-term security he wants and the team takes a big immediate cap hit with still no assurance the player will be around for the long haul — it is not often used.

In fact, Seattle had not used a franchise tag since 2010 on kicker Olindo Mare. But both Carroll and general manager John Schneider said at the NFL combine last week the team would use it if needed to keep the Seahawks’ best pass rusher in the fold for 2019.

“Frankie will be with us, yeah,” Carroll said last Thursday when asked about Clark’s status for 2019.

But Carroll said then the hope would be that a long-term deal would get done even if the tag was used on Clark, who has missed just one game in four years and last season led the team with 13 sacks.

“It is ultimately (the goal), yeah,” Carroll said. “Frankie just turned 25, he’s still a very young football player. Made a huge step this year in terms of leadership, growth and maturity. It was so obvious. I was really proud of seeing that develop for Frank. He played great, too. Frank, he’s a very valuable football player and that’s the process we’re in the middle of and all that, I can’t tell you guys how that’s going to turn out but it’s going to be positive for the Seahawks and for Frank.”

But with three other of the best defensive ends/edge rushers in the NFL also potentially set to become free agents and also getting the franchise tag Monday — including Kansas City’s Dee Ford, Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney and Dallas’ Demarcus Lawrence — finding the right price for Clark was difficult for each side at the moment.

Teams can continue to negotiate with franchise tagged players until July 15. After that date, then teams cannot negotiate again with tagged players until after the season.

Former NFL agent Joel Corry, who now writes about salary cap issues for CBSSports.com, speculated last month that it was possible none of the big four defensive end free agents — Lawrence, Ford, Clowney and Clark — would sign and might all get tagged.

“They are all going to be kind of waiting for someone to reset the market,” Corry said. “And the guy who goes last should use the other deals as a benchmark. That’s why I don’t think anyone wants to go first.”

Schneider seemed to indicate at the Combine that Clark understood why the tag might be used and that it wouldn’t be a hindrance to getting a long-term deal done.

“Frank and I, we have a great relationship,” Schneider said. “The communication has been great. There’s a strong level of trust between the two of us.”

Clark was Seattle’s first pick in the 2015 draft, taken 45th overall. His 35 sacks in four years are the second-most of anyone in that draft class, topped only by the 40 of Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter, who re-signed with Minnesota before last season to a five-year deal worth $14.4 million. At the time that deal was thought as possibly setting a bar for Clark and the other potential free agents in this class. But instead, the market for edge rushers has moved far past that number.

The Seahawks entered the day with an effective cap space of $48 million for 2019, according to OvertheCap.com, which now drops to about $31 million with the free agent signing period now nine days away. One reason the Seahawks would be motivated to get a long-term deal done with Clark is to lessen the cap hit for 2019 — the cap hit could be spread out over multiple years. But that also means making a much longer commitment to Clark, as well as an immediate guarantee likely in the $50 million range.

While Seattle will undoubtedly continue to talk with Clark — who is represented by Erik Burkhardt, who also represents Kyler Murray — putting the tag on Clark also means the Seahawks can begin to make other moves with an understanding of what their cap for 2019 may be.

Among those is to figure out which of the team’s restricted free agents to give tenders — offensive tackle George Fant seems the most likely — as well as talking to agents of the other 13 players who at the moment can become unrestricted free agents next Wednesday, notably linebacker K.J. Wright, guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker and cornerback Justin Coleman. Free safety Earl Thomas will also be a free agent next week but no one deems it likely he will consider Seattle, or that the Seahawks would make him an offer.

Eventually this offseason the Seahawks will also look into giving extensions to three key players who can become free agents following the 2019 season — quarterback Russell Wilson, linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, with Wilson likely a specific priority. The Seahawks would not want to have to tag Clark again so they could have it available for Wilson or Wagner, if needed, meaning Seattle will have to get a long-term deal done with Clark at some point over the next year or risk losing him following the 2019 season.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Kenai Sinaphet takes the hand off from head coach, Dalton Schwetz, during practice Wednesday afternoon at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on August 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘Fresh start’ for Marysville Pilchuck under new coach Schwetz

The Tomahawks begin practice without longtime coach Brandon Carson, who stepped down following last year’s playoff run.

Stanwood's Ryder Bumgarner rushes with yardage with Arlington's Trenton Lamie, left, closing in the third quarter Friday night at Stanwood High School on September 24, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Prep football: 5 storylines to watch this season

A look at some intriguing questions as local high school football practices get underway.

The Central Welding Supply 125, which serves as the season finale at Evergreen Speedway, will attempt to run on Saturday, after being bumped postponed last weekend due to weather.
Community roundup: ARCA West comes to Evergreen Speedway

Plus, a host of local collegians earn preseason honors, Jake Luton gets released by the Jaguars and more.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox fall to Canadians in slugfest

Everett loses 12-8 as the two teams combine for 30 hits.

Seattle Mariners' Cal Raleigh celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Raleigh homers twice, Mariners top Angels to complete sweep

Seattle hits four total home runs in an 11-7 win over Los Angeles.

Seattle Storm head coach Noelle Quinn directs her team during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Sam Morris)
Can 2nd-year coach Quinn lead Storm to 5th WNBA title?

Seattle’s postseason gets underway at home against Washington on Thursday night.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock (2) walks the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Carroll laments lost chance for Lock, Seahawks due to COVID

The QB will miss an opportunity to start Thursday’s preseason game after getting the virus for the second time.

People explore Everett Memorial Stadium’s new turf and track during an open house event Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett Memorial Stadium reopens with new-look field, track

The facility, which originally opened in 1947, underwent renovations this summer.

Angel of the Winds Arena stands ready and waiting Friday afternoon for Kraken fans to arrive for the preseason game against the Edmondton Oilers. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
Kraken’s new AHL affiliate set to play game in Everett

The Coachella Valley Firebirds take the ice at Angel of the Winds Arena on Oct. 28.

Most Read