Ryan Clark: How the Steelers Utilized Free Agency Correctly at the Redskins’ Expense
Clark & Steelers Emerge as Winners
After seeing potential in the former UDFA Clark, Colbert and Co. pulled the trigger and signed Washington’s former starting Strong Safety in 2004 and 2005 (139 Tackles, .5 Sacks, and 3 INT’s) to compete for the open Free Safety spot on Pittsburgh’s roster. After a nice 2006 season which saw him amass 3 FR’s in addition to 1 INT and 72 Tackles, Clark’s gall bladder and spleen had to be removed after a game in Denver and he missed 10 games in 2007.
Undeterred by his misfortune, Clark continued to produce beginning in 2008 and has not stopped since. A strong player in run support and doing a decent job in pass coverage as a compliment to Polamalu, Clark has made 363 Tackles over the last 4 seasons in addition to logging 7 INT’s from his Free Safety position. Most importantly however, Clark has established himself as one of the most feared hitters from the Safety position in the entire League now. I’m sure we all remember his hit on Willis McGahee in the A.F.C. Championship Game in January of 2009 that had McGahee carted off the field as he was trying to gain some extra yards near the end of the contest. Last season, Clark finally added a Pro Bowl to his resume, which includes a Super Bowl ring, after he was named to the team following his first 100 Tackle campaign.
I would say that it has been a fine run for a guy that earned his way onto a roster as a UDFA with the Giants, and was allowed to leave Washington because he had been “upgraded.” Furthermore, I would say that it was a magnificent job done by Pittsburgh’s Front Office for addressing a team specific need with a guy that has since started 78 games and counting over the last 6 seasons as well.
Look, this post is not to say that the Redskins are the only team which has made Free Agent blunders. No team has ever made a right move every time (i.e Donnell Woolford, Todd Fordham, Jay Riemersma Steelers), and it would be downright moronic to assume it. Nevertheless, no team has come close to making the sheer amount of colossal Free Agent blunders which the Redskins have over the last couple of decades. How and why some of these moves have made football and financial sense in the heads of former G.M. Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder is beyond me, and the fact that Clark was made expendable by Archuleta’s signing is laughable now.
Clark’s success with Pittsburgh is only “salt” in the wounds with regards to how quickly Archuleta’s career in Washington ended, and what Washington could have spent on with the extra cap space made available had Clark been re-upped is difficult to think about I’m sure. Regardless, the move was made, and the Steelers benefited from Washington’s lack of frugality in their dealings with Free Agents.
Thus, let’s be stoked that Colbert and Co. exercise temperance and a cool head every March and choose more to replenish their talent with good Drafting as opposed to Free Agent signings. But most of all, “tip of the cap” Ryan Clark. You were the upgrade, the Redskins just simply did not get it.
(Stats Provided By: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/)