Things changed significantly for the Ravens at the safety position during the 2022 offseason. One of the results of their moves made on the backend was veteran Chuck Clark being traded at the start of the 2023 league year.
Clark, a 2017 sixth-round pick, established himself as a full-time starter midway through the 2019 season, and held onto a first-team role from that point on. His consistent production had him in line for a new Ravens extension heading into the 2022 offseason, but circumstances turned against him quickly. Baltimore signed Marcus Williams in free agency on a five-year, $70MM contract, marking their latest big-money investment at the free safety spot.
More significantly with respect to Clark’s status, the Ravens followed up the Williams deal by selecting Kyle Hamilton in the first round of the draft. That move seemed to leave Clark on the outside looking in beyond the 2022 season, and he requested a trade shortly thereafter. Baltimore, as expected, ultimately moved on this March by dealing him to the Jets in a swap which yielded $3.64MM in cap savings.
When speaking about the trade earlier this week, the 28-year-old indicated that he felt “disrespected” by the Ravens given the way his time with the team came to an end. Clark has one year remaining on his current contract, but he was under the impression that a Ravens extension was a distinct possibility in 2022, as noted by Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (subscription required). Zrebiec adds, notably, that the team was “open to the idea” as well, before their safety additions made Clark expendable.
The latter – who eclipsed the 100-tackle mark for the first time in his career last year – could have a much clearer path to a starting spot in his new home than he would have had in Baltimore in 2023. The Ravens have Williams and Hamilton in place for the foreseeable future, while Clark could partner with Jordan Whitehead in New York ahead of hitting the open market in 2024. With a cap hit of $4.14MM, Clark could prove to be a cost-effective contributor for the Jets as he and the Ravens go their separate ways.
Baltimore did utilize three-safety packages to a notable extent in 2022, as they looked to integrate Hamilton slowly before what should be a dramatic uptick in usage this year. Continuing those alignments may have left the door open to retaining – or even extending – Clark beyond his current deal, but both parties appear to be well-positioned moving forward. How Clark fares in New York, and the degree to which he is replaced in Baltimore, will be worth monitoring in 2023.