Uchenna Nwosu is out for the season, and that is a loss that hurts bad. He has been a miraculous addition to the defense since signing with the Seattle Seahawks last offseason, and now the team will be forced to try to find a way to replace (or at least attenuate) the vacancy that he leaves in his wake. In a move that was somewhere between unexpected and a foregone conclusion, the team turned to a familiar face to help remedy the issue. Of course I am referring to Frank Clark, the former second-round pick who has collected two Super Bowl rings and a whole bunch of postseason stats since leaving the Emerald City for Kansas City. Will he get that illustrious third ring now that he is back in Seattle? Maybe, maybe not. But if he does it won’t be because of his contributions.
Frank Clark went from being a “disappointment” following the blockbuster trade that sent him to the Kansas City Chiefs to being an immutable factor in their postseason success. It is no big secret that his relatively pedestrian regular season stats are far-eclipsed by his playoff performance; in four seasons with the Chiefs, he put together a staggering 10.5 sacks in the postseason. Combine that with his three for Seattle and you have the NFL’s third all-time leading sack-artist in the playoffs, according to Pro Football Reference. But a sizeable portion of Chiefs fans were still somewhat ambivalent towards him even after their first postseason run; some fans pointed to his contract-to-production imbalance and others opined his lack of regular season impact. The simple fact of the matter is this: Frank Clark can be a game-wrecking force as a pass rusher, but he can disappear for stretches of time and — while he can be a capable run defender, he shouldn’t be expected to bring Nwosu’s level of well-rounded play to the table at this point in his career.
To add further concern, Clark missed eight games between 2019-2022, and he has only been active for two games so far this season, as he has struggled through multiple health issues. The Denver Broncos signed him with high expectations, and despite “hitting it off” with Sean Payton, he was a major free agent bust for them. I think it is somewhat telling that the team reportedly sought some kind of late round compensation, much like they were able to get in the trade that sent Randy Gregory to the San Francisco 49ers, but no other franchises would bite. Well, we can hope that the Seahawks stay the course, make the playoffs, and stand witness to another historic run out from Frank Clark. Or maybe they just slot him in as a rotational pass rusher and he performs capably. I am much more inclined to think the latter is a possible outcome, and even that could be a tall order.
So what is my point? I’m not here to simply be negative or take personal issue with Frank Clark, but rather to suggest that this team may need to make further moves along the edge if they are hoping to keep up their level of defensive play in Nwosu’s absence. And maybe they are simply willing to accept some drop off, assuming that the rest of the defense continues to perform at a high level. Maybe, though, the team should consider making some calls ahead of the trade deadline if they want to keep this defense looking like the fearsome unit it has matured into. Whatever the case, we are unlikely to see a major impact when the team takes the field against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Regardless, it will be worth monitoring to see how the defense handles a wounded offense that will likely be lead by PJ Walker and Kareem Hunt.