BY Art Thiel 06:02PM 04/23/2019

Thiel: Seahawks get April visit from Santa Andy

What were the Chiefs thinking? They had to out-bid others for Frank Clark, after the Seahawks shrewdly set the table to harvest first-and second-round picks for their young star.

Frank Clark now will do what he does best for Kansas City. / Seahawks.com

Much remains to be played out, but Tuesday may be the day the Seahawks began proving wrong the skeptics who believed that Russell Wilson’s mammoth contract extension wrote them off the list of serious Super Bowl contenders.

If the club’s plan works, and you’re a 12, don’t forget to tip your bird helmet to Andy Reid.

The Kansas City Chiefs coach gave the Seahawks more than they imagined in a trade for DE Frank Clark, providing a first-round pick in this week’s draft (29th overall), plus a second-rounder in the 2020 draft, in exchange for a talented 25-year-old whose near-equivalent likely is available Thursday in a deep smorgasbord of pass rushers  — at a much more manageable price.

The Seahawks and Chiefs also swapped third-round picks, moving down to 92nd from 84th. But that is a trifle. The Seahawks scored.

The draft-desperate Seahawks now have five picks in 2019 and a whopping 12 in 2020, including four compensatory picks after losing free agents to other teams. By Thursday, they might twist the 21st and 29th into more picks, plus enough left over for a balloon giraffe at a kids’ birthday party.

The disparity in valuations in this trade are remarkable. Clark was the second-best player on the Seahawks defense and its sack leader. But a first and a second, one year removed? Andy, you’re a good man, but we presumed the Santa Claus pose was just your sense of humor, and not a sincere conviction.

Not only did the Chiefs more than make Seattle’s price, they met Clark’s price for a contract extension — a $105.5 million, five-year deal, with $63 million guaranteed, which   tops by a smidge the deal the Cowboys gave DeMarcus Lawrence that allegedly blew off the top of the edge-rusher market.

General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll seemed to have pulled off a swindle that may inspire the NFL to hire Robert Mueller.

Carroll talked a good off-season game of wanting the return of Clark, who had his best season in 2018 and seemed to be warming to the idea of being a leader.

“Not worried about Frank at all,” Carroll told reporters at the NFL meetings in March. “Frank had a fantastic season. We’re thrilled to have him coming back.”

But Schneider earlier stalled the negotiations on a long-term extension with a shrewd application of the franchise tag — a one-year deal for $17.1 million that was not signed by Clark — buying time to get the Wilson deal done by the April 15 deadline said to be imposed by Wilson’s agent.

The deadline was 10 convenient days ahead of the draft, allowing the Seahawks to create a clean market for Clark, whom the Seahawks quietly decided was of less long-term value than two other defenders eligible for extensions: LB Bobby Wagner and DT Jarran Reed.

Media reports claimed that multiple teams had interest in a rusher entering his prime, despite the price tag and the behavioral red flags from his college days. He was kicked off the University of Michigan’s team following a 2014 episode of domestic violence, a charged later reduced sufficiently for the Seahawks to endure the controversy over his selection (63rd overall) in the second round of the 2015 draft.

Except for an episode on Twitter in 2017 when he engaged in a sexist disparagement of a female reporter, Clark has no known episodes of dubious behavior.

Carroll and Schneider never said, and never will say, whether Clark’s earlier screwups influenced their decision to trade him. Yet is also hard to imagine they didn’t ask themselves whether Clark was a higher-than-average risk to make another mistake after they would have invested more than $100 million in his future.

Presumably the Chiefs did their due diligence, and came away with a belief that Clark was worth the risk.

Schneider and Carroll held a presser Monday with local reporters. Schneider cracked open the door on the possibility of a Clark trade when he answered with nervous humor a question about whether the Seahawks could afford to keep Wagner, Clark and Reed.

“Feasible — very challenging,” he said. “Were you in my bedroom last night when I woke up in the middle of the night? No, I think about it all the time.”

Carroll quickly slid to help with a chip block.

 “I hope that doesn’t happen,” he said. “That’d be weird.”

Snickers aside, the deal was in the works, perhaps awaiting only the last, best and final offers from competing teams. Reid won the bidding. It remains to be seen whether he wins the battle.

The Chiefs defense gave up the ninth-most points in the NFL last season (26.3 ppg) and the second-most yards (405.5 ypg). That included 38 points and 464 yards in a 38-31 loss at the Clink Dec. 23, so it’s possible to see some of the urgency in Reid to supplement the wizardry of NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Meanwhile, in an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Clark sounded a little peeved at his departure from Seattle, but didn’t fall into disparagement.

“I feel like I’m good,” he said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I’m wanted, where I’m appreciated. I thank God that KC came in and showed that . . . In life, you just want to be shown that you are appreciated sometimes and I feel like this was one of those things.

“(The Seahawks) had other plans. It got to a point where Seattle had used me for everything I had for them already. At the end of the day it’s a business . . . Look down the history . . . when you’re playing in Seattle it’s not common that they plan to have players around for the long run. It’s obvious. It’s evident.

“But I’m blessed and thankful to be part of their organization. John and Pete  drafted back in 2015. It just sucks that we weren’t able to get something done because they knew how I felt about being in Seattle and how I felt about my future, and I feel like at the end of the day it was all ignored.

“But it is part of the business . . . and you have to play your cards right in this game.”

It certainly is a business. But Clark erred in his knowledge of Seahawks history. Stars such as Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were awarded second contracts, and Chancellor and Wilson earned third contracts.

Clark is sort of in a category with Bruce Irvin and James Carpenter, good players who were allowed to walk into free agency without compensation after their first contracts expired.

This time, the Seahawks were compensated. Handsomely.

Clark was right. You have to play your cards right in this game.

 


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YourThoughts

  • coug73

    What is done is done. Time to sign Wagner and Reed. Draft drama for sure.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Only in the grip of a massive ego would an offer of $17 million seems ‘unappreciative’. Good move Hawks.

    • Chris Alexander

      Ego or no, when an older player with less upside, less talent, and poorer stats signs a 5-year contract that averages $21 million a year, a $17 million offer could certainly seem unappreciative. It isn’t/wasn’t; it was just the business side of the sport.

      Personally, I wish Frank good fortune in Kansas City and look forward to seeing what Trader John turns #29 into this year (and what he turns the 2020 second round pick into as well).

      • art thiel

        I think Frank’s dismay was the lack of an extension that topped Lawrence. But the franchise tag is a tool used by club’s to retain some payroll control, and the players union agreed to it. I’m guessing it may not be in the next CBA.

    • art thiel

      That’s is a pro athlete euphemism of which I am so tired. Along with “no respect.”

      • Kevin Lynch

        I remember being unappreciated at work. I remember being shown the door. I waited outside the office for someone to come running down the stairs saying “Kidding! Kidding! C’mon back up and work another year for us! Would $17 million be okay?” Believe it or not, that person never showed up.

  • Matt Kite

    Wish I hadn’t watched Frank’s 2018 highlights video above. He plays like a bulldozer shot out of a cannon. Fast. Powerful. Just relentless. I’m thinking the Seahawks are going to miss him. Given his steady improvement, his best years are probably still to come.

    • art thiel

      Clark is an improving force, and will be missed. But you gotta give to get.

      • David Schartow

        I wonder how adding Clark to the Chiefs will alleviate their shaky at best secondary. 13 sacks is a little less than 1 a game. 1.5 million per sack? Would be nice to have him but not at that price. Better to get rid of them too early than too late. Works for Belichek.

  • Matt712

    I don’t believe the Seahawks originally planned on dealing Frank. But when the DeMarcus Lawrence contract reset the market and Clark’s camp stated he would not sign the franchise tag, a trade became the best option for all concerned.

    And Reid’s generosity may well earn the Chiefs a Lombardi trophy. The 29th pick wasn’t going to get Kansas City anyone who could play at Clark’s level this year. But landing an up & coming dominant pass rusher to bolster a defense for an elite QB still on his rookie contract? We’ve tasted that recipe before, and it was delicious.

    • art thiel

      I think the Seahawks had hoped to keep Clark, but they’ve seen market-breaking deals such as Lawrence’s before. So they wisely deployed the franchise tag to put Clark’s fate on pause while the Wilson deal set the payroll.

      The Chiefs were desperate to improve a bad defense in order to make the SB run while Mahomes is still affordable. I get that. But the Chiefs overpaid for Clark.

  • 1coolguy

    I love it when JS listens to me, haha. This is one of his best moves – unload a ridiculous salary ($20m+), gains (2) fine draft pics, and in a DL loaded draft, the Hawks may be able to pick up a guy that’s say, 80%+ of Clark at a much reduced cost.
    Now sign Bobby and hopefully find a tall starting receiver RW can actually see when he drops back.

    • art thiel

      I have a tall WR in mind. Stay tuned.

  • jafabian

    I had hoped a way would be found to satisfy both sides but Frank dug in his heels and the Hawks didn’t blink. I get amused at how indignant some players get when they get traded in this scenario. According to the NFLPA the average NFL career is 3.3 years and Frank was here for four. Seattle doesn’t keep players for the long run? As Marshawn would say, for real? Only the ones who compete and want to be here. Frank should be grateful he could command such a contract despite not making the Pro Bowl or All Pro. Hope the best for him unless the Hawks play the Chiefs.

    Now Schneider has something to work with for the draft and with the boatload of draft picks won’t mind losing one or two as a compensatory pick for the right FA. The next couple drafts could be like 2011-2012 drafts all over again.

    • art thiel

      I think all Seahawks who weren’t offered second deals were hurt, dismayed, mad or some combination. Most of us fear change and prefer what we know. As I mentioned, Frank didn’t make a serious study of Seahawks personnel decisions.

      • jafabian

        If that’s the case with Frank then IMO his agent isn’t doing their job. They should be informing and educating their client on the consequences of their actions and be prepared for any eventuality. I agree with everything you said but I don’t know what exactly agents tell players in this scenario. It’s almost like they only tell them so much. At least some of them,

  • WestCoastBias79

    I actually think this was one of those win/win trades for both sides. When the Cowboys signed Lawrence to that ridic deal, you kind of knew Clark was gone. The Chiefs are in a full blown win while Mahomes is cheap phase (mid-west Rams), and the Seahawks are in the have to stack the team with cheap kids/expensive QB phase (west coast Saints). Both sides got what they needed. That said, Schneider’s early round drafting has me a wee bit nervous.

    • art thiel

      Good assessment of the trade partners. And you should be nervous about the first round, given John’s history.

      • Alan Harrison

        I don’t have a problem with his first round drafting – it’s just that the players he tends to choose (Carpenter, Penny, and Irvin come to mind) would likely be available in the 2nd and 3rd rounds at a better cost. Sometimes (Okung and Thomas in 2010), it’s better not to look under a rock.

  • Warchild_70

    Letting #55 go was a solid move and what they got was incredible! What is going to keep Bobby and Jared is a toss up but I do believe they’ll take the money and stay. So what’s next? An offensive lineman the size of a Buick? How ’bout a true fullback? Oh well Luck be with thee Seattle I’ll be here in Alabama creating my version the 12th man!

  • wabubba67

    Almost as good as Jerry Jones giving up two #1 draft picks for a disgruntled Joey Galloway. Very close.

    Or the Bears giving up a #1 (#11 overall) for Rick Mirer in 1997.