The Seahawks don't typically offer players contract extensions during the season, but at the rate Frank Clark has been playing, it might be prudent for them to buck that trend and get Clark a long-term deal.
LONDON — He emerged from the locker room sporting a camouflage jacket, a red beanie and shades as thick as goggles. Teammates instantly noticed and started yelling “Hancock!” — referencing the Will Smith movie character who possessed super-human strength.
No doubt Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark looked the part of a superhero after Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium. During the game? He played the part.
“This guy goes against Pro Bowlers and is beating those guys every week and nobody’s talking about him,” Seahawks defensive lineman Jarran Reed said of Clark after his team beat the Raiders, 27-3. “They’re not respecting my dog around this league.”
Barring a catastrophic injury, Clark’s next contract is going to have a whole lot of zeroes in it. That’s not in question. What is in question is when that contract will be offered and who he’ll ultimately sign with.
Right now, he’s in the final year of a deal with a team that bet on him to be the future of their pass rush. Safe to say the Seahawks cashed in on that wager, but should they be willing to bet that he’ll re-sign if they don’t offer an extension before the season is over?
Clark leads the Seahawks with five and a half sacks after recording a team-high nine last year. He racked up 10 sacks in 2016 despite playing behind Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
His finest game came Sunday, when he had two strip sacks in Oakland territory that Seattle recovered and scored a combined 10 points off.
“What is Frank showing people?” I asked Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald.
“You talkin’ about Frank the Freak?” McDougald said. “He’s coming out and proving that he’s worth every dollar he’s going to receive in the future.”
Clark’s 24.5 sacks over his past 37 games are impressive standing alone. What accentuates that stat is that many came when he was essentially a second-stringer.
Bullish as the Seahawks were on the second-round pick, they weren’t going to bump Pro Bowlers such as Avril or Bennett. But Frank wasn’t just lying around over that stretch — he was lying in wait.
Now, he has established himself as one of the top pass-rushers in the league. He’s frequently embarrassing left tackles, whether it’s blowing right past them or throwing them to the ground.
You don’t always know how a defensive end will adjust to a larger workload, but Clark has thrived in the face of greater responsibility. And it’s clear he doesn’t think he’s reached his peak.
“I just want to keep showing people that I’m one of the best, period. I feel like I’m one of the best to play the game,” Clark said. “Today, I feel like I’m working toward being one of the greatest, and that’s what I want to do.
Is your contract something you think about when you’re out there?
“Yeah, it is. Because at the end of the day, I have a family to feed. I got a daughter to feed specifically,” Clark said. “So at the end of the day I’m going to do everything in my power to get every win we can get for this team.”
The Seahawks don’t typically extend players in the middle of the season, but they might want to make an exception for Clark. If he continues at this pace and becomes an unrestricted free agent, his market value could skyrocket and they’d risk losing him. It’s possible Clark would want to wait till the end of the year and test that market, but Earl Thomas is a potent reminder of why that’s dangerous.
And if we’re being honest here, there have been some off-the-field issues with Clark. The domestic-violence allegations surrounding him put the Seahawks under fire when they drafted him in 2015. And in May of 2017, when lifelong Seahawks fan and sports reporter Natalie Weiner wrote about her conflicting feelings about her favorite team drafting Clark, he responded on Twitter with “people like you don’t have long careers in your field. I have a job for you cleaning my fish tank when that lil job is ova.”
He also punched offensive lineman Germain Ifedi during a heated dispute two training camps ago.
This stuff might not have any bearing on how Clark performs, but it matters to organizations that want their fan bases to think well of them.
But there haven’t been any incidents involving Clark since the altercation with Ifedi. And Sunday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised Clark not just as a player, but as a teammate.
“He has taken a leadership role really reminiscent of some of the guys that were here before,” Carroll said.
Perhaps there is a risk to extending Clark ASAP. But based on what he’s been doing, it could be a bigger risk not to.