Ryan Clark broke into the league in 2002 as an undrafted rookie free agent but didn’t establish himself as starter until he arrived at the Washington Redskins in 2004.
Clark played well in 2004 and even better in 2005, but Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had his eye on more expensive toys in the form of Adam Archuleta and allow Clark to walk in free agency.
Need a replacement for recently departed free safety Chris Hope following Super Bowl XL, Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers wasted little time in scooping Clark up to a four year contract.
- Archuleta only started 7 games for the Redskins
- Ryan Clark started 109 for Pittsburgh, including Super Bowl XLIII and Super Bowl XLV
Snyder it would seem has an acute sense of buyer’s remorse, as he has brought Clark back to Washington. Terms of the deal were not discussed, although Clark has said that he will not play for the league minimum and at one point denigrated the numbers initially put forward by the Redskins when he first spoke with them.
Hail and Farewell Ryan Clark
As mentioned in Ryan Clark’s free agent focus profile, his return to Pittsburgh was not expected. Clark’s production in terms of tackles this year remained solid, but he was noticeably slower and no longer “in on every play” has he had visibly been in 2011 and 2012.
Clark seems to have accepted that, and even welcomed Michael Mitchell whom the Steelers signed to replace him.
- But if the loss is expected, it is nonetheless a sad passing.
For 8 years, Clark led the Steelers in both the locker room and on the field. His hard hitting set the tone for the secondary and the rest of the defense. Clark was one player who literally tucked his head, squared his shoulder and went to work.
During the second half of Mike Tomlin’s rookie season, Steelers Nation agonized as the Steelers defense gave up late leads a number of times.
- Thoughts of, “This never happened under Bill Cowher” were voiced often times with passion.
- With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it is now clear that Clark’s absence hurt the Steelers as much Polamalu’s.
- On behalf of Steelers Nation, Steel Curtain Rising thanks you Ryan Clark.