Set to become a free agent in March, defensive end Frank Clark won't be settling for a below market deal to stay with the Seattle Seahawks.
According to Brady Henderson of ESPN, Clark's agent Erik Burkhardt told him that his star client has taken out an insurance policy as protection in case he suffers an injury prior to the start of free agency. He believes Clark belongs in the discussion as one of the best defensive ends in football and he's willing to bet on his client, even if that means playing a season on the franchise tag.
“Obviously players want a long-term deal because this game is dangerous and violent and everything else, but I’m going to continue to bet on my guy.” Burkhardt told Henderson. “You look at a guy like Kirk Cousins, who played out the franchise tag, that’s not all bad either. He did that because he believed in himself and also knows teams can’t usually find top quarterbacks in free agency. The pass-rush market is much the same in that aspect. It’s supply and demand.”
Clark, 25, already has 5.5 sacks in six games for the Seahawks this season despite playing through complications from food poisoning in recent weeks. The 265-pound defensive end also forced two fumbles in a 27-3 win over the Raiders in London and recorded his first interception against the Rams in Week 5.
Film Breakdown: Frank Clark dominates against overwhelmed Raiders
Now in the final year of his rookie contract, Clark ranks 10th in the NFL with 24.5 sacks since the start of the 2016 season and could command close to $20 million per year on the open market. If Seattle can't reach a long-term deal with him before free agency opens, he would be in line to make $17.153 million on the franchise tag for the 2019 season.
Burkhardt indicated that he has a strong working relationship with the Seahawks and that he's had good discussions about a long-term extension with the front office. But understandably, he wants top dollar for his client and believes waiting until free agency begins in March will create the best opportunity for him to be paid at true market value.
“I don’t care if those guys were high first-round picks. I don’t mind being quoted saying I absolutely put Frank in that echelon with those guys, so I’m not going to sit here and do a deal early and then watch in March when those guys get $X million a year and Frank not be in that range. Why would we do that?" Burkhardt said. "I feel like I have just as good of a player, and I want to be very clear, that is not a knock on anybody. Frank is on that level and I believe everybody around the league will tell you that as well.”