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Frank Clark’s next contract: Now or never?

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Before the 24 year old enters his final year on a rookie deal, should the Seahawks extend their top pass rusher already?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

About the last thing on the Seattle Seahawks minds right now needs to be Frank Clark. John Schneider and his office are trying to gear up for a pivotal draft while presumably still scouring the bottoms of Goodwill bins for the last free agent bargains. Don’t expect Seattle to start handing out deep extensions now before they know where the wells of fresh talent will be distributed after the draft. These things usually come at the end of the regular season, or more often the end of the offseason, which is why I haven’t got worked up about Earl Thomas at any point. Thomas is trying to work his leverage, but he most likely remembers his teammates Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor, shucks even Pete Carroll! all signing their latest deals in July or August. Yes if they trade Thomas it should be before the draft, but just because the Seahawks aren’t in a rush to sign yet doesn’t mean it’s not well within their plans.

But also down the list of Schneider’s plan sometime this offseason ought to be: making a decision on Frank Clark.

Unlike Bruce Irvin back in the day, Clark was a second round selection in 2015, so Seattle doesn’t have the choice of a fifth-year option to declare their intentions right away. Also because of his round status, Clark has clearly been a value player for the Seahawks: In his three years Clark’s 23 combined sacks land directly between Cliff Avril’s 21.5 and Michael Bennett’s 23.5 for the team lead. With both of those veterans gone, the defense’s production on the edges will be heavily down to Clark next year and that’s a quality that seems worth wrapping up for the future in 2018 pro football.

Except Clark also didn’t make quite the transition many expected of him in 2017, when Frank had folks out in Gold Bar scribbling him in for 19 sacks and 26 TFLs. After spurting to 10 sacks in his age-23 season, Clark only scratched repeating those numbers in his follow up year, with 9 sacks and 10 tackles for loss despite lining up for the most snaps of his career and the added interior threat of Sheldon Richardson. Clark had some monster games, like a pair of sacks and three run stuffs behind the line of scrimmage plus a batted pass in Seattle’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles. But the frequency Clark also got shut out by opposing tackles hints he didn’t meet the growth projected by 2016. Clark too won’t be in the same market that made his widely recognized first-round talent fall to the 63rd pick after he got kicked off his college team for a violent incident, since he’s been (mostly) stable as a pro and in an environment when he’s only exceeded in demand by Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter, DeMarcus Lawrence and maybe Aaron Lynch. It looks risky to let your top pass rusher hit unrestricted free agency, and I also before 2017 rated Clark a potential superstar, but banking now on his future value outperforming a premium deal seems like a thinner opportunity than it did. Especially when the Seahawks are trying to dig out from extravagant salaries; unlike Earl, a new deal for Clark doesn’t include the possibility of negotiating worthwhile cap savings in 2018 since Clark makes less than $1 million right now.

What do you all think? When is the right time to work out a long term commitment to Frank Clark?

I guess I could put a poll but, just vote with your words.