Huard: For first time in years, Seahawks get value back in star’s departure
It was far from a quiet Tuesday for the Seahawks, who by 11 a.m. local time had not only traded away their top pass rusher, but had also managed to pad their league-fewest four picks with another first-round selection.
That extra pick comes at a high price. Seattle snagged the 29th overall pick this year and a 2020 2nd-rounder in exchange for defensive end Frank Clark. The 25-year-old Clark wasn’t just a dominant edge rusher and disruptive force on the line for Seattle, but was also a player who accounted for nearly a third of the Seahawks’ 2018 sack total.
Still, when it comes to the Clark trade, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard thinks Seattle managed to do something it hadn’t in years prior: get a high return for a departing player.
“I think for the first time in the last few years – and this is what we’ve clamored for – they tried to get that value back,” Huard said during an interview with Bob, Groz and Tom on 710 ESPN Seattle Tuesday afternoon.
“That if you’re going to move on from Frank Clark, a productive player who is going to have more productive players ahead of him, then you’ve got to try to get value back. And while that did not happen with Richard Sherman, and that did not happen with Earl Thomas, that happened in big ways here with Frank. They wanted a first round pick, and they get it. They get a 2020 2nd-round pick. And they add to maybe the deepest arsenal of draft artillery they’ve ever had as you look ahead to 2020.
“This was for the long game, this was not just for winning in 2019. This was about sustaining and being good in 2019, and sustaining and being good in 2020, and being good in 2021. And when you’ve got head coach, GM, and quarterback locked up, these are the kind of moves, to me, that you have to make.”
Now comes the hard part for the Seahawks: replacing Clark with cheaper talent. For Huard, 2019 is the most opportune time to find a potential difference-maker.
“When he sat down with us a couple weeks ago, Schneider said this is the best defensive line draft in 27 years that he’s ever evaluated,” Huard said. “That resonated with me. And to me, that’s a big reason why you’re able, timing-wise, to make this move. The Chiefs get back what they want, and they paid him a deal that the Seahawks were not willing to. The Seahawks were willing to play with Frank this year at $17 million, and that’s I think why the Chiefs knew they had to give up a first-round pick…
“Ultimately this is also about the Seahawks, I think, wanting to extend Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed and other players who they deem to be great players. And I think this is important: they don’t do this deal unless they believe wholeheartedly in this draft that they can find and develop the next Frank Clark. And frankly, they’ve been pretty good at it on that defensive line.”
Here are a few other notes from Huard’s interview:
Without a strong defensive line, do you look at the secondary as an area that needs to be filled? “Unlike the defensive line in this class, this is not a great cornerback class. I think it’s a great safety class; there’s not an Earl Thomas, there’s not an Eric Berry… but there’s really good depth into the second and third rounds. But this is not an elite corner draft, where you’re going to get to the second or third round and find a guy that you can plug-and-play. Having said that, they did it with Tre Flowers a year ago and he was a college safety. I still think it’s an absolute need, though, and you won’t find me shaking my head and saying how could you possibly do that (if they make a pick). They’re not set at all there, so there’s no question you need to continue to add to the competition in that room.”
How much of a priority is wide receiver right now? Is this a good class for that? “That is where, if you do trade down from pick No. 21 or No. 29 and get a couple second-rounders, you’ve got some really, really intriguing players. I don’t think this draft is very good in the first round for wide receivers, but I do think this is a draft that is loaded with guys that fit Pete Carroll’s (ideal) of either being really big and athletic or being incredibly fast. I think it’s an area of need, but ultimately secondary and defensive line is the top priority, period.”
Is this the most important draft that Carroll and Schneider have had in seven or eight years? “I don’t know if I’d go there. You had four picks this morning and now you get that second first-round pick. Now, you’ve got to make that pay off for Frank Clark. Because he is one productive player. That was a guy that you grew and you developed and you nurtured, and who really matured in your program. Now you’re letting him go. You’re not letting him go for nothing, but you’ve got to make that pay off.”