There is no question that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark has become a fan favorite here in the Steel City. However, at 34-years old with a contract that expires at the end of the NFL season, all indications seem to point that Clark has played his last game with the Steelers. As much of a pain as it has been to realize, for both Clark and the fans it is becoming reality.
Clark arrived in Pittsburgh in 2006 after spending two years with the New York Giants and another two with the Washington Redskins. Clark became best friends with fellow teammate Troy Polamalu. Clark has been an unsung hero for the “Steel-Curtain” defense and was the key factor in Polamalu’s play over the last several years. Without Clark, Polamalu is not the same player and vice versa.
Clark has compiled 827 career tackles and 15 career interceptions as well as established himself as one of the league’s biggest hitters. He spoke out several times on how he does not want 2013 to be his last season and that he would like to continue playing the rest of his career with the black and gold.
Those dreams for Clark do not seem to becoming reality. Just six teams ranked below the Steelers in turnovers. Their 10 interceptions and 10 fumbles finished below the standard in 2013. The Steelers also ranked No. 21 against the run in 2013 which was their lowest ranking in 44 seasons.
The salary cap is another problem the Steelers keep running into that looks to really prevent Clark from coming back. The Steelers are under a tight budget that they would like to find a way to re-sign linebacker Jason Worilds with if they can muster up enough money. Clark’s odds continue to decrease even though his stats look to always increase. Saying goodbye to a player that has helped bring a Lombardi Trophy to your city is never easy, but seems to be the answer in Pittsburgh.