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Report: Seahawks agree to trade DE Frank Clark to Chiefs

The Seahawks used their franchise tag on Frank Clark in March. (Getty)

The Seahawks have reportedly agreed to trade defensive end Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Schefter reports the trade gives Seattle the Chiefs’ first-round pick (No. 29 overall) and a 2020 second-round pick. The teams will also swap third-round picks this year (with Seattle going from No. 84 to No. 92).

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As part of the trade, the Chiefs needed to negotiate a long-term contract with Clark, who was set to play under Seattle’s franchise tag in 2019. According to Schefter, that has also been completed: they’ve since signed Clark to a five-year, $105 million deal with $63.5 million guaranteed.

Why did the Seahawks trade Frank Clark?

Obviously we don’t have all the answers here. Both general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have praised Clark’s on- and off-the-field presence. Because of that, the easiest conclusion to draw is that a contract extension for the 25-year-old pass rusher could become prohibitively expensive for a Seahawks team that had just extended their franchise quarterback and was looking at expiring deals for other defensive starters.

With his 2018 production (a career-high 14 sacks), the rising price tag of a top-tier defensive end, and a lack of draft capital for Seattle, rumors of a potential trade of Clark had been circulating weeks prior to Tuesday’s news.

The Seahawks were facing a July deadline to reach an agreement on a long-term extension with Clark (after using the franchise tag on him in March). After signing quarterback Russell Wilson to a record-setting $140 million extension in April – and with free agency looming for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner – the Seahawks were also faced with the challenge of creating a manageable salary cap hit for the trio of Pro Bowlers.

Questions about salary cap implications had been raised as recently as Monday afternoon. During a pre-draft press conference at the team’s headquarters, Schneider was asked whether it was feasible to retain Wilson, Wagner, and Clark.

“Feasible,” Schneider replied. “Very challenging.”

What does this mean for the Seahawks?

Trading Clark gives the Seahawks an additional first-round pick this year, which pads what was previously a league-fewest four picks. They now own the 21st overall and 29th overall picks (in addition to picks No. 92, 124, and 159). Seattle now also owns an additional second-round pick in 2020.

In terms of salary cap space, Seattle has a bit more flexibility to negotiate a long-term contract with Wagner (or defensive tackle Jarran Reed, another impending free agent).

In the more immediate future, the Seahawks are left with a significant hole on their defensive line.

Clark recorded 14 sacks and 27 quarterback hits in 2018 – both were team and career highs. His 14 sacks were the most by any Seahawk since 2007 (Patrick Kerney). Clark alone recorded one third of Seattle’s 43 sacks, and coupled with Reed (10-and-a-half sacks), accounted for more than half of the team total.

With the trade of Clark, the Seahawks have five defensive ends on the roster: Branden Jackson, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, Cassius Marsh, Nate Orchard, and Quinton Jefferson, who can also play at defensive tackle.

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