The Washington Redskins are looking to solidify their free safety position, and have turned their attention to free-agent safety Ryan Clark (above). The Redskins recently began negotiations with Clark in an effort to sign him. These negotiations lasted for almost two days, with no decision being reached as of this writing.
It’s easy to see why a decision between the Redskins and Clark won’t be automatic. Redskins’ fans with good memories remember Clark: he played for the Redskins in 2004 and 2005, starting in 24 of the 27 games he played. Clark played well for them, but the franchise decided that free agent Adam Archuleta was a more viable and talented option at free safety. Washington signed Archuleta to a six-year, $30 million contract, sending a signal that Clark wasn’t the answer at free safety for the Redskins.
Washington also needed to find playing time for a young, fast and hard-hitting safety who had the size and ability to become the prototype safety of the 21st century. His name: Sean Taylor. Archuleta’s signing and Taylor’s ascension made Clark expendable. Clark loved playing in Washington, but the NFL is a business consumed with winning. Somewhere along the line, the Redskins’ front office felt that Clark’s presence wasn’t conducive to winning, so he was cast aside before the 2006 season.
Clark would eventually sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, using the apparently acrimonious separation from the Redskins as motivation to build his stock as a consummate professional. He built solid eight-year career with Pittsburgh, which resulted in earning a Super Bowl ring after the 2008 season, as well as a Pro Bowl selection in 2011. Not a bad resume for a Redskins’ castoff.
You would figure that Washington would have found a suitable replacement for Clark by now. Then again, we’re talking about the Redskins. Archuleta failed miserably with the Redskins in 2006, prompting the team to trade him to the Chicago Bears before the 2007 season. Taylor was a two-time Pro Bowl safety for the Redskins, and was expected to become a transcendent safety for years to come. Unfortunately, he was tragically murdered in 2007, cutting short a promising career (and life) at only 24 years of age.
The 2014 season proves that hindsight is 20/20 for the Redskins. They are trying to rectify their release of Clark years ago by attempting to sign him to a free-agent contract. Clark would be a more than adequate replacement for incumbent free safety Reed Doughty, who has been less than spectacular at the position. Stating the obvious, the Redskins haven’t exactly been the model of consistency regarding NFL franchises in recent years. The Redskins have a whopping total of three playoff victories since their last Super Bowl title after the 1991 season (when quarterback Robert Griffin III was a year old — yes, it’s been that long).
Considering the respective recent fortunes of Clark and the Redskins, it’s hard to imagine factors other than money that would motivate Clark to consider signing with Washington. Nevertheless, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen is trying to rebuild the once proud Redskins’ franchise. Only time will tell if Clark will become part of the rebuilding process.