Steelers Free Agent Spotlight: S Ryan Clark


Oct 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark (25) reacts after almost intercepting the ball against the Oakland Raiders during the third quarter at Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-18. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Completing the look at the free agents in the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary we’ve come to Ryan Clark. Clark as twelve NFL seasons under his belt and will be 35 this October. He’ll also be an unrestricted free agent on March 11th.

Ryan Clark was signed by the New York Giants in 2002 as an undrafted free agent. He spent some time on Special Teams and the practice squad there before starting some games for the Giants in 2003. He spent two seasons as part of the Washington Redskins defense before the Steelers signed him as a free agent in 2006. His twelve-year NFL career has included many great plays and hard hits. He’s accumulated 575 tackles, 15 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles.

There was a time when no one could light up a player that dared cross the middle of the field like Ryan Clark. The NFL has basically legislated away most of Clark’s strengths with their focus on player safety and eliminating most of the hits he was known for. As a result, it’s come to view that he’s not made for covering very well and doesn’t typically make great plays for the ball, which is where the free safety position is headed towards nowadays.

Before the Steelers reconsider re-signing Clark they must first consider the fact that he’s definitely on the wrong side of 30, his skills are diminishing/being legislated out of the game, and Clark has already begun his post-NFL career planning after being the first active player to serve as an NFL “analyst” for ESPN this past season. The Steelers did give Clark permission to accept ESPN’s offer during the season but they’re not likely to continue allowing the unnecessary light Clark keeps shining on the organization through the “tidbits” he agrees to share on camera.

I don’t know if Ryan Clark’s playing days are done, but I think it’s a safe bet that they’re done in Pittsburgh. The defense must get younger and this decision is a no-brainer. Clark just doesn’t have the skill-set anymore to contribute to a defense that needs to get back to harassing quarterbacks and creating turnovers. The safety position in the NFL is evolving and it’s leaving Clark better served in a suit and tie dishing out dirt on ESPN than he is to any team’s defense. I still believe he was an integral part of the Steelers defense that helped win them Super Bowl XLIII and take them to Super Bowl XLV and as a fan I’m grateful to him for that but this is a move the team needs to make in order to move in the best direction.

What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Do you think Ryan Clark has played his last game for the Steelers?

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