Coach Pete Carroll also gave update on injuries to Sebastian Janikowski, J.R. Sweezy, Rashaad Penny and others in his Monday news conference following the Seahawks' win over the Chiefs.
If you’ve been worried about the Seahawks being able to keep Frank Clark during a season in which he has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, don’t be.
That was the message Monday from Seattle coach Pete Carroll, who said the team is “working’’ to keep Clark, whose four-year $3.7 million rookie contract runs out after this season. That would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
“Frankie, he’s a Seahawk and we’ve got to figure it out somehow,’’ Carroll said during his regular Monday news conference following Seattle’s rousing 38-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs the night before in which Clark had four tackles and three quarterback hits. “We will work at it. It’s a big issue.’’
Indeed, Clark’s price tag has only gone up as he has recorded a career-high 12 sacks this season, most for any Seahawk since 2007.
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It’s also undoubtedly moved past what some in the summer viewed as a possible comparison deal — the five-year, $72 million extension signed by Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter, a contract that included $40 million guaranteed.
Seattle hasn’t used the franchise tag on a player since 2010, when it placed it on kicker Olindo Mare.
But Clark could be a good candidate for that. With the salary cap projected to increase to between $187 million and $191 million next year from the $177 million of this season, the tag for a defensive end figures to be in the $18 million range (all guaranteed).
So any long-term deal for Clark would certainly have to average at least that, if not more.
Teams can begin placing franchise tags on players for next season on Feb. 19, a period that ends March 5. Teams can then continue to negotiate with players.
But Carroll made clear Monday that Clark has answered any of the questions the team might have had about him.
Clark was a controversial choice in the second round out of Michigan in 2015 after having been dismissed from the team late in his senior year following allegations of domestic violence — he eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
“It’s been marvelous to watch him grow,’’ Carroll said. “He’s been growing within the program. It’s like he’s a senior now and he’s acting like it. He’s embraced the opportunity and the role and he’s growing through it. There’s that freshman year and then the sophomore year and he’s just growing up right before our eyes. He speaks so clearly about how it all works and how it fits together. I was listening to him on the radio last night driving home and just so pleased to hear him have so much clarity in what his purpose is and how it all fits.’’
Clark also has proven to be a durable and productive player — he’s missed just two games in four seasons and has 31 sacks in the past three seasons. He needs just one more sack to move past Cliff Avril onto the team’s top 10 list for career sacks.
And on the day Carroll said Seattle won’t let Clark get away, Clark was rated by Pro Football Focus as having had the best game of any Seattle defender against the Chiefs, with eight pressures on 34 pass-defense snaps, third-most of any edge rusher in the NFL this week.
SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI SHOULD BE OK
In the happy glow of the victory Sunday night, Carroll basically laughed off a question about the health of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who fell hard to the turf when he was roughed on a field-goal attempt in the second quarter.
“I didn’t know that he was ever going to get up,’’ Carroll said sarcastically. “But, he did.”
In a little calmer mood Monday, Carroll allowed that Janikowski had to fight through some pain to make it back — he made a field goal and three extra points in the second half. But he indicated there is no real doubt Janikowsk will be able to kick Sunday against Arizona.
“He’s OK, but he landed on the guy’s foot and dug into him pretty good,’’ Carroll said. “Went flat on his back. So it was a little more than I thought it was.’’
MORE INJURY UPDATES
Here’s more about what Carroll said about some specific injury situations:
— The only other apparent new injury in the game was suffered by guard J.R. Sweezy, who departed in the second quarter with a foot injury. Following the game, Carroll called it an ankle injury, but clarified Monday that it’s a sprained foot/arch situation, instead. As for whether Sweezy can play against Arizona, Carroll said, “I don’t know that.’’ So that could mean another start for Ethan Pocic, who filled in first for D.J. Fluker at right guard, then moved to left guard when Sweezy went out with Fluker returning at right guard.
— As for Fluker, who had missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, Carroll said he made it through fine after having to play 49 of 80 snaps after Sweezy went down. “He was rusty but he did fine,’’ Carroll said. “And you know that was a real surprise that he could pull that off. He had a heck of a pregame warmup and workout and he was excited to be available for us, which we needed him. So we were very fortunate that worked out.’’
— Carroll said it remains unclear if free safety Tedric Thompson will be able to return this week. Thompson missed the game with a chest issue that Carroll gave a little more clarity to on Monday and said he will have a test Wednesday to determine what comes next. “He’s feeling better today and he was running today. … He’s got a big test coming up on I think Wednesday to check it,’’ Carroll said. “He’s got … he has some air in the tissues outside of his lungs that somehow showed up so they have to get that to go away. … so when that is OK, when it dissipates, then he’ll have a chance to come back.’’ Delano Hill started in place of Thompson with Bradley McDougald moving to free safety.
— As for McDougald, who had been away all week getting a treatment on his knee, Carroll said he appeared to make it through without incident. McDougald played all 61 defensive snaps. “I communicated with him late last night just to check in with him and he reported that he was feeling pretty good about it,’’ Carroll said. “So he did a nice job in that game under the circumstances.’’
— K.J. Wright played 43 of 61 snaps in his return from missing five games with a knee issue, which Carroll said was more than the team anticipated. “Would probably like to keep him in the 30s,’’ Carroll said. “Just circumstances and stuff. He felt good and played well and did a nice job and came out of it in pretty good shape, so that was a real positive outing for him.’’
— Germain Ifedi missed the game due to a groin injury suffered in practice Thursday and was replaced by George Fant. Carroll said there is a chance Ifedi can return this week. “Think he’s going to play,’’ Carroll said. “We’ll see.
CARROLL HAS NO PLANS TO REST ANYONE
Speaking of injuries, that Seattle has some key players nursing ailments leads to the obvious question of how the Seahawks will approach the game Sunday against the 3-12 Cardinals.
The game has a meaning that is open to interpretation. With a victory, Seattle would finish 10-6 and be assured the fifth seed in the NFC and would play at Dallas in the wild-card round. With a defeat, Seattle would finish 9-7 and if Minnesota were to beat Chicago, then the Seahawks would be the sixth seed and would have to go to Chicago to play the Bears. Playing either Dallas or Chicago are the only options for Seattle. As for being the fifth or sixth seed, the only real benefit is the really remote chance of both the No. 5 and the No. 6 getting to the NFC title game then, as the No. 5, getting to be the host (something that has never happened).
Carroll insisted he won’t treat the game against Arizona any differently.
“We’re going for it,’’ Carroll said. “We’ve got a big game. We’re not changing anything. We’re going to do like we do and go for it. I’m not sure what it means or where we play or whatever, but it doesn’t matter. We have to keep doing what we’re doing to keep the momentum going and the precision that it takes to keep sharp and all of that. There’s no other circumstance but to go take it like a championship (opportunity) and go for it.”
Carroll did allow that depending on how the game goes, it could allow for some players to be rested.
“We don’t do that,’’ Carroll said of going into the game with the idea of resting players. “Maybe the game allows you to make some decisions or something during the game, and that would be a little bit different. I’ve done that in the past and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like doing it. I think it messes with us. Just go play.”
Some obvious players who could be rested include tailback Chris Carson, who had 27 carries against the Chiefs, and receiver Doug Baldwin, who has been nursing a myriad injuries all season. Russell Wilson has a string of 110 consecutive starts that is the fourth-longest active streak in the NFL and Seattle wouldn’t figure to break that. But the Seahawks could get him out of the game early to avoid injury and give Brett Hundley — who has yet to play this season — some time.