Don’t blame Russell Wilson‘s massive contract for that.
Those are the two thoughts that come to mind with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that the Seahawks will send Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for the 29th overall pick, a 2020 second-rounder and a swap of this year’s thirds.
The easy conclusion to draw is that the Seahawks couldn’t afford to pay Clark after signing Wilson to the richest deal in NFL history. Certainly, paying their franchise quarterback $35 million on average with a new deal would put a big dent in their bank account. But it’s not that simple.
Teams can usually find a way to keep their very best players — if the two sides can agree on a price, that is. The Seahawks and Clark might have not been all that close.
It was logical that Clark and his agent, Erik Burkhardt, would seek a deal that topped DeMarcus Lawrence‘s $20 million average. The new contract Clark is getting with Kansas City will see him potentially earning $105.5 million over five years to Lawrence’s $105 million over the same period of time. Clark is, at 25, a year younger, he’s been healthier and he’s been more productive over the past three seasons. And when Burkhardt spoke to ESPN last October, he mentioned that Clark was in the best position he would ever be to maximize his earnings.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider didn’t deny that he was listening to trade offers for Clark when the subject came up in recent interviews. He said last week that the Seahawks had budgeted for Clark at the $17.128 million franchise-tag number for 2019. That comment was one indication that the team wasn’t hopeful about getting a long-term deal done with Clark this offseason.
And while Schneider didn’t shoot down the possibility of a trade, he also didn’t give the impression that the Seahawks were in any hurry to deal Clark. It was the same reasoning that kept Richard Sherman in Seattle in 2017 after the Seahawks publicly dangled him in trade talks. Same for Earl Thomas during his contract dispute last season.
The Seahawks weren’t going to give either player away knowing that he could still help them for at least another season. The only way they would part with Clark was if the offer blew them out of the water.
This one did.
The Seahawks entered Tuesday with a league-low four picks in this week’s draft, which included no second-rounder and only one selection in the top 80. Adding another first-rounder changes the outlook dramatically, with Seattle now owning pick Nos. 21 and 29 in addition to a third-rounder (92), fourth (124) and fifth (159).
But it also leaves them without a star pass-rusher, easily making that the biggest area of need heading into Thursday’s first round. Free-agent pickup Cassius Marsh (5.5) is their only edge player who had more than five sacks last season. Of those who were with Seattle last season, no edge player other than Clark had more than three sacks.
Coach Pete Carroll has talked up Jacob Martin, saying the 2018 sixth-rounder is in line for more snaps this season after flashing promise as a rookie. But at 245 pounds, Martin still projects as a rotational player who will give the Seahawks around 20 snaps per game as opposed to someone who can be counted on to approach double-digit sacks right away.
Rasheem Green, last year’s third-round pick, had an underwhelming season, as did Nazair Jones, who is being moved to defensive end after playing inside his first two seasons. Seattle’s other edge-rushing options include Nate Orchard, a free-agent pickup who didn’t receive any guaranteed money and is no lock to make the team.
The cupboard isn’t quite bare, but it’s far from stocked. It’s a good thing for the Seahawks that this draft is loaded with edge rushers.
“It really stands out,” Schneider told KIRO-AM 710 ESPN Seattle earlier this month. “I haven’t seen this before. … It’s like what flavor of ice cream do you like? Do you want a big run-stuffer? Do you want a quick 3-technique? Do you want five edge rushers?”
Even as unpredictable as the Seahawks have been early in the draft under Schneider and Carroll, selecting an edge rusher with their top pick seems likely.
Rashan Gary‘s production at Michigan left a lot to be desired, but his athleticism and tools could be hard to pass up if concerns about his shoulder injury cause him to fall into the second half of the first round. This, of course, assumes the Seahawks are comfortable with his medical situation.
If the Seahawks stay put at No. 21, a trade back from No. 29 into the second round would seem likely. Even with the extra first-rounder, Seattle still has only five picks and no doubt will want to add more. Given Doug Baldwin‘s uncertain future as he comes off his third surgery of the offseason, wide receiver would be in play with Seattle’s second pick, wherever that ends up being.
Either way, edge rusher is much more of a need for the Seahawks than it was while Clark was still in their plans.