Veteran TE Dallas Clark had a very nice first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he snagged 47 passes for 435 yards and four TDs, and helped first year head coach Greg Schiano to provide some leadership on the field. The question is, will he return for an encore performance with the Bucs?
Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik seems to want to do what is necessary to retain Clark. “I need to talk to his agent and figure out where they’re at first because that’s where it all starts,” Dominik told the Tampa Tribune. Dominik also acknowledged he’d like to have Clark catching passes for one or more seasons. “Two people have to come together to make a deal happen as opposed to one side is happy and the other isn’t so sure what it wants to do yet. … But I was certainly happy with the way Dallas Clark played this year. He played 16 solid games and he stayed healthy, which is what a lot of people’s concerns were.”
The first issue that will probably have to be settled is whether or not Clark wants to play at all, or if he’s ready to retire. After nine years playing for the Indianapolis Colts, and one season with Tampa, Clark may be ready to call it a career. Many thought he’d be done following the 2011 season, and after spending some extended time hanging in the free agent market, that seemed to be the likely outcome.
But the Buccaneers took a chance on Clark, and he came through with some vastly improved numbers over his last two seasons in Indianapolis.
Clark can still compete at a high level, and for a quarterback like Josh Freeman, there is no substitute for a go-to receiver who you know is going to catch the ball in crucial moments. Clark is also a veteran with playoff and Super Bowl experience, which are two places this franchise sees themselves heading in the future.
If Clark decides he wants to return, it would be silly for the Buccaneers to let him get away, and given the comments of GM Mark Dominik, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.