SEATTLE – Simply put, Frank Clark wanted more than the Seahawks were willing to pay.
When the Kansas City Chiefs came calling with an offer that surprised some around the league in what it would give Seattle, the decision for the Seahawks was an easy one.
And when the dealing was done Tuesday, Clark was off to Kansas City in exchange for a package consisting of the Chiefs’ 2019 first-round pick, a 2020 second-rounder and a swap of 2019 third-rounders, while Clark was the recipient of a new contract making him the third-highest paid defensive player in the NFL.
The deal means Seattle has picks Nos. 21, 29, 92, 124 and 159 in this weekend’s draft as well as 12 picks in 2020 – its own seven, the second-rounder from the Chiefs (the lower of Kansas City’s two picks in that round), and what are expected to be four compensatory picks for losing free agents this year.
The Seahawks placed a franchise tag on Clark in March that would have paid him $17.1 million for the 2019 season and prevented him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
But he wanted a long-term deal, and the two sides were not close. With negotiations at a standstill, the Seahawks were resigned to the idea that Clark was going to play the season on the tag, but likely not sign it and report until September with the two sides not able to talk again until after the season, per NFL rules. As the days wore on, that became a less appetizing thought – the Earl Thomas experience of last season still being fresh on everyone’s minds.
With contract talks stalled – Clark was thought to want a deal that would at least approximate the $21 million per season that Dallas recently gave DeMarcus Lawrence – Seattle had been taking calls for a trade for Clark, and the Chiefs in the previous 24 hours had emerged as a legitimate trade partner. The Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets were also interested, with one report that the Jets were willing to swap first-round picks – giving up the No. 3 pick for Clark and Seattle’s pick at 21.
The Chiefs, though, not only pulled off the trade but then gave Clark the kind of contract Seattle didn’t want to – a five-year deal worth $105.5 million, just a bit more than Lawrence received, with $63.5 million guaranteed, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
That makes Clark more highly paid than any defensive players in the NFL other than the Chicago Bears’ Khalil Mack and the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald.
The trade came a day after Schneider, the team’s general manager, confirmed the team was weighing offers for Clark while also stating it would be “very challenging” to keep Clark as well as Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed, who also can be free agents at the end of the 2019 season.
An ESPN report over the weekend stated the Seahawks would want a package that would include at least a first-round pick. That seemed like a steep price to some around the league, but over the previous 24 hours or so reports had emerged that a legitimate trade market was developing for Clark. Seattle will now add to what had been a league-low four picks heading into the 2019 NFL draft, which begins Thursday.
Clark was Seattle’s first pick in the 2015 draft, taken in the second round at No. 63 overall out of Michigan.
His selection was controversial because Clark had been kicked off the team at Michigan late in his final season there after being investigated in a domestic violence incident. He later pleaded to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
The Seahawks expressed confidence at the time that Clark would prove worth the risk. He paid off on the field, quickly emerging as one of the team’s best overall players with 10 sacks in his second season in 2016.
He then had his best season in 2018 with 13 sacks and had 35 in four seasons with Seattle, 32 in the last three years.
The Chiefs were motivated to add a pass rusher to replace Dee Ford and Justin Houston, who were traded and released, and had some cap space open up when plans to give an extension to receiver Tyreek Hill were delayed when it was learned he is being investigated for battery on a juvenile.
Trading Clark, meanwhile, means Seattle loses its best outside pass rusher, something the Seahawks already seemed to lack. But Seattle is likely confident it can pluck a pass rusher or two from what is regarded as a deep crop of edge rushers available in this week’s draft.
Reed has surgery
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Jarran Reed had sports-hernia surgery Tuesday morning.
Rapoport reported that Reed’s recovery time is 4-6 weeks, which means he might not do much, if anything, during the rest of the Seahawks’ offseason training program but that he should be ready for the start of training camp in late July.