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Frank Clark Extension Incoming?

This current Seahawks front office has taken some risks In their time. From trading a 1st, 3rd and 7th round draft pick for a wide receiver with known off field issues to making their first overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft a guy that had both off field issues as well as looming ‘dedication to the game’ question marks all over his face. Neither of those really worked out which may be a bit unfair when it comes to Malik McDowell, however I see him as very much an added bonus if he does end up playing, and far from an expectation. Anyone that is expecting him to play will more than likely end up pretty disappointed.

One player who the team took a chance on and ended up paying major dividends is #55 Frank Clark.

Frank had a somewhat troubled collegiate career at Michigan, he started off incredibly strong and was poised to cement himself into the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, however about 6 months prior to the upcoming draft, Clark was arrested for domestic violence and dismissed from the team.

The Seahawks are known to go above and beyond in their research when it comes to this type of character. While many teams would have simply removed his name from their draft board altogether, the Seahawks tend to go really deep into understanding what really happened, they supposedly invested well over 100 hours into speaking with anyone and everyone that had ever crossed Frank’s path in the years leading up to the alleged attack. Why would they invest so much time into such a character, though? It’s simple, if what has been claimed turns out to be true, you can get superb value from said player in terms of actual draft position. While many teams didn’t want to invest the time and really understand what went on, the Seahawks did and ultimately, must have felt totally comfortable in their choice as well as his innocence in the alleged incident in November 2014. You just have to look at the Trevone Boykin incident to see how this team handles players that have been involved in domestic abuse. Although Boykin hasn’t gone under trial as yet so is, by all means, innocent, the team clearly see the writing on the wall as well as a pattern in his behaviour (this is far from his first strike with the team) and simply let him go.

Frank lasted until right at the end of the second round of the draft and was selected with the 63rd overall pick. While it’s not unheard of for defensive lineman to have strong careers outside of the first round, it’s most definitely not the norm. There were a grand total of nine defensive ends drafted before Frank Clark in the late second. Nine! The vast majority haven’t had nearly the career that Frank has to date, either. That reinforces the team’s decision to look into the allenged incident further and are clearly reeping the rewards now given how Frank has come along.

He had a pretty mellow rookie season in 2015, racking up 16 total tackles and 3 sacks. Not exactly setting the NFL alright but far from bust numbers. When you consider he was playing in a relief role for the likes of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, his snap to sack rate was actually pretty good.

It was his sophomore year though that he made a real name for himself, managing a career high double digit sacks with 10 and 47 combined tackles. He was being used more and more in terms of playing time and was making those all-important snaps count. At this point, it was apparent that Seattle had struck gold with Clark, given where he was drafted and they were starting to benefit in a huge way.

2017 was much of the same from his 2016 season, managing 32 tackles and 9 sacks. He led the team in sacks (with Michael Bennett coming second just behind him with 8.5). Based on these numbers, an extension has to coming soon for Frank Clark, right? I’d say so.

With the departure of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril’s future with the team in serious doubt, Clark is likely to lead the team in sacks again in 2018 as an all but guaranteed starter alongside Dion Jordan. Frank also offers versatility much in the same way that Bennett did, although he’s best used off the edge, he can rush from the inside if the personnel and formation allows it.

He hasn’t been without his troubles with Seattle, though. You may remember his altercation with Jarran Reed on the side lines in 2016 with the two getting in each other’s face and having to be separated by multiple teammates. Although that was quickly sold down as emotion on the field. Frank and Jarran are close, really close, so it seems it was simply a case of game day emotions clouding their judgement. You can’t realty hold it against either of them too much, it happens, and this is the NFL after all. He also managed to get himself thrown out of practice in the August before the start of the 2017 season for punching teammate Germain Ifedi in the face. He nearly knocked him unconscious and did draw blood which is not OK. Historically Pete Carroll has brused these incidents off as the guys ‘playing close to the edge’ which is exactly what he wants and expects out of them but even he had a few choice words to say about the incident to the media in the coming days. He explained that he has spoken with Clark and expressed his displeasure and has been assured it won’t happen again. And so far, it hasn’t.

Pete Carroll himself said in a recent interview how Frank has developed into one of the leaders on the team, he is highly respected, plays with a nasty edge and ultimately backs it up on the field on game days.

My only knock on him, which I think is fair, is he can go two, even three games with little production. In 2017 he started off strong off the bat managing 1.5 sacks in the first two games to pair with three tackles, then he dropped off somewhat and only managed one between weeks 3 and 6. He also had a dry patch from weeks 9 to 12 and only managed another half a sack in those 4 games. Ultimately, though, managing 9 on the season is certainly not to be whiffed at and he is still very likely going to improve on that in 2018 and beyond.

As he wasn’t a first round pick, there is no 5th year option for the team so they will either choose to extend him this summer before the season starts, take a gamble and extend him mid-season or be really risky and let him test free agency. Given his consistency to date, I’d be happy with taking a slight gamble and extending him this summer as it will likely prove the cheapest option. Leaving it till mid-season or even once free agency begins could really drive his market and price up considerably. We all know how valued legitmate pass rushers are in this league with $20M likely being the norm for the premier guys by the time the new season starts.

But what would it take to get Frank locked up long term? Assuming they do the extension this summer, my best guess is $13-14M average per year.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s $13.5M, how would the contract look?

5 years $67.5M with a $15M signing bonus is my best guess. This could be structured as follows –

2018 –

Base salary of $5M

Signing bonus (prorated) of $3,242,586 (includes his rookie signing bonus which the team can’t get out of)

2018 cap hit of $8,243,586

2019 –

Base salary of $8M

Signing bonus (prorated) of $3,000,000

2019 cap hit of $11M

2020 –

Base salary of $11.5M

Signing bonus (prorated) of $3,000,000

2020 cap hit of $14,500,000

2021 –

Base salary of $12.5M

Signing bonus (prorated) of $3,000,000

2021 cap hit of $15,500,000

2022 –

Base salary of $15.5M

Signing bonus (prorated) of $3,000,000

2022 cap hit of $18,500,000

The 2022 cap hit may scare you at this point, but I guarantee you it will look like a bargain by the time the actual year rolls around.

When you consider his 2018 cap hit currently sits at $1,187,527 that’s a net gain on the cap of only $7,056,059 for 2018, or conveniently, pretty much exactly what the team would save by cutting Cliff Avril.

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