The Ravens will collect a 2024 seventh-round pick for Clark, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Clark had loomed as a Baltimore departure candidate since the first-round selection of Kyle Hamilton last year, and he will have a fresh start in New York. The trade cannot become official until Wednesday, when the 2023 league year begins.
Trade buzz followed Clark immediately after the Ravens drafted Hamilton, as that move came not long after Marcus Williams‘ $14MM-per-year Baltimore pact. The Ravens will move forward with a Williams-Hamilton safety tandem, while the Jets will add a veteran starter for low-end trade compensation. The deal will save the Ravens $3.64MM in cap space; the team, which now has a $32.4MM Lamar Jackson franchise tag on the books, remains more than $8MM over the cap.
Clark said in January he wanted to stay with the Ravens, but he did request a trade during the 2022 offseason. The 27-year-old defender has been a primary Ravens starter for the past four seasons, remaining with the team as it cycled through veteran safeties alongside him. A 2017 Ravens draft choice, Clark arrived in Maryland after current Jets GM Joe Douglas had left the organization. But after talks with former coworker Eric DeCosta produced a deal, the ex-Ravens exec will have an experienced safety on his roster at a low rate. Clark is due just $2.5MM in base salary; his contract runs through the 2023 season.
A sixth-round pick, Clark worked his way up to starter status and stuck around in that role as the likes of Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Earl Thomas, Williams and Hamilton came through town. Clark has made 63 career starts. The Ravens used all three of their safeties frequently in 2022, though a Williams injury prevented the team from doing so for a chunk of the season. Clark finished the year with a career-high 101 tackles, along with a forced fumble.
The Ravens used Clark in a variety of roles, lining him up in the slot on 128 snaps last season (h/t ESPN’s Field Yates) while using him sporadically as a boundary cornerback and an edge defender. Pro Football Focus rated the Virginia Tech product as a middle-of-the-pack safety (46th overall) but viewed him as one of the best run-support players at the position.
Jordan Whitehead remains under contract with the Jets, but 2022 starter Lamarcus Joyner is set to hit free agency next week. Clark’s arrival could point Joyner out of town. As for the Ravens, they are covered at safety. PFF rated Hamilton as the top safety in the league last season. Williams is under contract through 2026, while Hamilton can be kept on his rookie deal through that point due to the fifth-year option.