March 2, 2010

Free Agent Rundown: Ryan Clark

We've seen him before in DC. In 2005, Ryan Clark tamed a fellow young safety named Sean Taylor as the Washington Redskins went on a dramatic play-off run that left them a few plays short of the NFC Championship.

Now, Clark could be back in the Burgundy and Gold.

Clark is a reliable nine year veteran who has spent the last few years on the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing alongside the legendary Troy Polamalu in the Pittsburgh secondary. However, barring a new contract with Pittsburgh, Clark is set to test the free agent market on Friday.

Polamalu might get all the attention, but along with Clark he formed one of the better safety tandems in the NFL the past few years.

Clark is rarely out of position, and his discipline in coverage limits the big plays a passing game can make. But the fundamental approach Clark takes doesn't prevent him from laying out receivers over the middle. He is aggressive in taking down ball carriers, and his overall passion for the game raises the level of intensity in the whole defensive backfield.

Clark isn't an all-pro , but he has complemented superstars for much of his career.

For two years, Clark helped develop Taylor in Washington before departing as a free agent after the 2005 season. Taylor was on his way to stardom until he was fatally shot in 2007.

The Redskins have another physically gifted yet frustrating young safety in LaRon Landry. Landry is in desperate need of stability. A pairing with Clark could be just the ticket.

Clark would fill the free safety role, which the Redskins badly need while Landry could move back to his more natural role as a strong safety. This doesn't guarantee success for Landry, but it protects the Redskins from giving up big plays courtesy of Landry's blown coverage.

Clark should also be an affordable option for the Redskins. He doesn't have the name recognition of an Antoine Bethea or a Nick Collins, but he has a skill set not far below those players.

Washington has a plethora of strong safeties, but not one is equipped to adequately play free safety. Reed Doughty and Chris Horton lack the cover skills while Landry doesn't have the awareness.

Clark would be a much-needed addition, and the Redskins have brought back players in the past (see: Fred Smoot and Derrick Dockery). It isn't too far-fetched to see him return to Washington.

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