The Seahawks will not be paying safety Earl Thomas. Seattle made that clear. But the team needs to pay Frank Clark. Now.
The Seahawks got flipped off by Earl Thomas when he was lost for the season – and probably his career in Seattle – in week four. Leaving the field Thomas let Seattle know how he feels about not getting extended while he was holding out. Defensive end Frank Clark should get extended, though, and take all the money that Thomas wanted.
Clark did take some time off in training camp, of course. He wanted to protest that he, like Thomas, wasn’t extended prior to the last year of his current contract. But Clark came back prior to the preseason. But the need to extend Clark rather than Thomas has several reasons.
Clark is younger than Thomas. Thomas will be 30 years old when the 2019 season starts. Clark will be 26 when next year begins. Though free safeties can play into their 30s and be successful, Thomas relies on his speed a lot. An aging player is usually a slowing player. And Thomas will have broken his leg twice in his career when returns.
Clark hasn’t had to play tons of snaps in his career. Until this year, he hasn’t been the main pass rusher for Seattle. And he came into the NFL young. A successful pass rusher turning 26 will make a lot of money. Seattle needs to spend money to keep Clark.
Position of need
Thomas has been a great player. I don’t want to ever dismiss how good he has been with the Seahawks. But Seattle can survive the loss of a safety. Seattle cannot afford to be without good pass rushers. And Clark has proven he is that.
Clark had 2.5 sacks against the Oakland on Sunday and was near quarterback Derek Carr many more times.
Clark in 2018 has 5.5 sacks. That is currently tied for fifth in the league. And this is in a season where Clark became the clear number one edge rusher is Seattle. Still, opposing teams haven’t slowed him much. This means Clark is understanding just how much ability he has. And edge rushers are an extremely valued commodity in the NFL.
As far as speed rush goes, Clark has beaten Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth twice in this last three matchups between Seattle and Los Angeles. And Whitworth is one of the best tackles in the league. Clark isn’t entirely feasting on weak tackles.
Spending money when needed
At some point the Seahawks have to choose to spend a lot of money on homegrown players. They signed receiver Tyler Lockett this preseason to a $10 million a year extension. Clark is worth more. If Seattle doesn’t sign him, Clark is going to make tons of money elsewhere.
But the Seahawks need Clark for the future. He will be a Pro Bowl-quality defensive end for a long time yet to come. Seattle doesn’t need to worry about drafting a defensive end to replace Clark; They simply need to extend Clark. This is what having money to pay players is about: Sign those that are young and productive and keep your team competitive. Clark needs to be in Seattle for the next four years at least.
The Seahawks need not even think about extending Earl Thomas. He doesn’t want to be in Seattle anyway. Seattle needs to let him go. But the money the Seahawks don’t spend on extending Thomas? A lot of that needs to be set aside for Frank Clark’s next deal.