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Moore: Franchise tag would be right choice for Seahawks with Frank Clark

Franchise tag or not, it will take a hefty sum for the Seahawks to keep Frank Clark. (AP)

NFL teams can start handing out franchise tags on Tuesday, and I hope the Seahawks give one to Frank Clark instead of a long-term contract extension.

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If he’s tagged, Clark would earn in the neighborhood of $18 million in 2019. If the Seahawks want to give him an extension, Pro Football Focus projects it to be a five-year, $87.5 million deal with $53 million guaranteed.

As we know, Clark is one of the top pass-rushers in the league and plays the second-most important position next to quarterback. He’s had 35 sacks in four years, 32 in the last three years and 13 last year, tied for seventh-most in the NFL with Kansas City’s Dee Ford, Arizona’s Chandler Jones, Washington’s Rayn Kerrigan and Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.

Clark’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, told Brady Henderson of that “Frank and I are not scared of the franchise tag.” Burkhardt has seen other elite pass-rushers play on a franchise tag and get their long-term contract 12 months later. “That’s winning,” Burkhardt said.

Clark had half a sack more this season than Chicago’s Khalil Mack, who signed a six-year, $141 million extension with $90 million guaranteed after he was traded by the Raiders to the Bears. That averages out to around $23 million a year.

You can probably make a better case for giving Clark an extension rather than tagging him. I had reservations about him in 2018, wondering if he’d be as productive without Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, yet he certainly was. You could argue that the Seahawks should pay him now because what if he has 20 sacks in 2019? By this time next year, Clark’s agent might want a contract in the $25 million a year ballpark. If that’s the case, the Pro Football Focus-projected contract extension would be much more team friendly right now.

How much will it cost Seahawks to keep Frank Clark in 2019?

It’s just a hunch on my part, a gut feel, that they shouldn’t give him an extension this year. Roll the dice, take your chances and make double-dog sure that Clark is going to be a consistently elite pass-rusher for years to come. If he has another terrific season, you’ll benefit in 2019 by having a presumably solid defense thanks, in part, to Clark harassing quarterbacks on a weekly basis. And then GM John Schneider will have to suck it up and pay him top dollar in 2020. But the good news about that – Clark will only be 27 in 2020 with plenty of years in his prime remaining.

On the field, I’ve not seen anything from Clark that would necessarily warrant a wait-and-see approach with his contract. But I want the Seahawks to wait and see anyway. I tell myself that it doesn’t make sense, but some of the things he says on Twitter and some of the stuff he’s done in his past makes me wonder about him even if he’s really distanced himself from the incident with his girlfriend in the Sandusky, Ohio, hotel room five years ago.

Back then, the Michigan Wolverines were concerned enough about the accusation of domestic violence that they dropped him from the team. Making a deal with prosecutors, Clark pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. But after reading police accounts of what allegedly happened in that hotel room, it’s hard to get completely past that for me.

We all say dumb stuff on Twitter from time to time, and Clark has too. He criticized Bleacher Report’s Natalie Weiner for linking a story on Clark’s domestic violence incident in her tweet two years ago, and recently in a reply to someone who wrote “Women are psychopaths,” Clark wrote: “Put yo phone under the plunger when you in the shower, she’ll never look there.”

When I read that, I thought, wow, that’s weird, who would ever do that? And since he gave it out as advice, it makes you think that maybe Clark really has hidden his phone under a plunger while he’s taken a shower. You could say, if he has, who cares? And I’d say, you’re probably right, but still…

Again, I’m not offering anything of substance other than a gut feel that the Seahawks should be patient and give it one more year. For the first time since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010, they should use their franchise tag and put it on Frank Clark.

Have you listened to “Bark?” It’s Jim’s podcast about dogs, available at and wherever you find podcasts. If you’re interested in sponsoring “Bark,” please contact Jim at [email protected].

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