Trading DE Frank Clark would be far from an easy decision for Seahawks

Mar 22, 2019, 12:51 PM
Seahawks, Frank Clark...
The Seahawks used their franchise tag on Frank Clark in March. (Getty)

Could the Seahawks be offered a top pick for defensive end Frank Clark?

And even if they could get a first-rounder in exchange for Clark – a 25-year old starter who made up 30 percent of the team’s sack total – should they take it?

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That was the subject of a debate on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore, which stemmed from an interview Brock and Salk had with NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo.

In a segment that aired Friday morning (you can listen to the full interview here) Garafolo was asked by Brock Huard and Mike Salk whether the Seahawks could get a first-round pick in a trade of Clark.

“Oh yeah, there’s no question,” Garafolo said. “You’re talking about a one (first-round pick) and then some for Frank Clark. And it’s not going to be a back-end one either, it’s going to have to be a high one.”

O’Neil: Clark trade wouldn’t net high first-rounder

The Seahawks used the franchise tag on Clark in early March, which carries a $17 million-plus price tag for one year. A long-term deal for Clark, who was considered one of the league’s top defensive end free agents to start the year, would presumably be upwards of $18 million per year.

It’s because of that impending mega-deal that Danny O’Neil believes a team may not be willing to part ways with a high-round pick.

“I don’t believe that it would be a high first-rounder and then some,” O’Neil said. “When you look at the guys that actually are in the situation Frank Clark is, you’re not trading for him, you’re trading for the right to pay him the contract that Seattle won’t give him. When you see those kids of trades happen, it’s pretty rare.

“The Seahawks gave up a pick for Deion Branch (in 2006). There was a first- and a third-round pick that were given up for Jared Allen when Minnesota acquired him from Kansas City (in 2008). I know John Abraham went from the Jets to the Falcons (in 2006), and that was a first-round pick. We’ve seen fewer and fewer of those types of deals, though. Because usually, when the team that has him is balking at the price, there’s not someone else that’s saying, ‘Not only will I pay that, but I’ll give you a first-round pick for the right to do so.'”

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Clark’s 2018 season brought a career high in sacks (13), solo tackles (33), quarterback hits (27) and his first ever interception. Losing Clark would leave a huge hole in Seattle’s pass rush, which creates more problems for a team trying to contend while its All-Pro quarterback and linebacker enter the final years of their respective deals.

Additionally, signing the 25-year-old Clark to a long-term deal will only save Seattle money, assuming the price tag for a top-tier pass rusher continues to skyrocket.

“Here’s my question on the whole thing: Why would you trade away Frank Clark?” Dave Wyman said. “This is why you draft; this is why you go out and get a guy. He’s an unbelievably explosive player. I think he can be a superstar in this game. So why would you trade him away to get a one or maybe a two? I don’t think he wants to go anywhere, and I think both sides understand (a new deal) is going to be somewhere in the $19-$20 million range. If you have to go on the high end for Frank Clark and sign him for $20 million a year, in two years that’s going to look like a bargain.”

O’Neil: Seahawks’ lack of picks makes this a tough call

This is where things get tricky. Seattle has three key players entering the final year of their contracts: Clark, quarterback Russell Wilson, and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, all of whom will command big contracts. The Seahawks will also have a tough time replenishing their personnel with younger, cheaper talent – the team has a league-low four picks in the draft this April.

It’s why O’Neil says, despite knowing how much Clark can help Seattle in 2019, that he would be tempted to consider a trade.

“If some team had a first-round pick on the table for Frank Clark – I would know that for this team right now… to take the next step and contend and maybe win a division title, to climb higher and to be able to host a playoff game next season, that the best chance of doing that is Frank Clark as opposed to a first-round pick – I’d still be really tempted,” O’Neil said.

“Not so much because of the sure-thing nature of the first-round pick. But you get some cost control there. It’s such a cheaper deal. And if you’re the Seahawks, you can take that first-round pick and turn it into a second and a third, and all of a sudden you’ve got a significantly different draft. But you’re right, these are the kinds of decisions that you’d hope to be able to make with a guy you drafted in the second round. I think (the lack of a pass rush without Frank Clark) is ultimately why I wouldn’t make that deal. But I don’t think there’s a team that’s going to offer a first-round pick.”

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Trading DE Frank Clark would be far from an easy decision for Seahawks