If this past offseason wasn’t a tough enough one for Pittsburgh Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert, the upcoming offseason could turn out to be equally as difficult, as there is no salary cap relief in sight for the Steelers.
Colbert had to make some tough decisions this past spring, including allowing linebacker James Harrison to walk.
He may be forced to do the same with free safety Ryan Clark.
Clark said back in May that he didn’t want 2013 to be his final season with the Steelers.
But there’s been no action since then to guarantee Clark will remain in Pittsburgh.
Clark told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that there have been no talks about a new deal. He said that he hoped that talks would get going as the calendar moves closer to the start of training camp, but that he wouldn’t approach the season any differently should the Steelers remain silent.
Over the past couple of seasons, Clark has shown his importance to the Steelers defense, especially with his usual running mate Troy Polamalu often injured. Despite that, Clark has never had a better stretch than what we have seen the past couple of seasons.
Clark has been the glue of the Steelers secondary and finished the 2012 season with 102 tackles, good for third on the team. That came just one season after he led the Steelers in tackles with 100 in 2011.
The problem though is that Clark turns 34 in October. That’s an age that usually doesn’t bring multi-year deals to the table despite being a longtime fixture on the defense.
Clark’s play has been good enough to think he could continue playing well beyond 2013, but the lack of cap space and an organizational commitment to getting younger on defense could mean that he likely will be looking for employment elsewhere following the 2013 campaign.
Of course before deciding on Clark’s future, the Steelers will like to see what rookie safety Shamarko Thomas can do.
Either way though, judging by past situations, if Clark doesn’t have an extension by training camp, which seems rather unlikely, this very well could turn into his last season in black-and-gold.