Like them or not, the Baltimore Ravens are usually one of the better organizations in football, and that does have a lot do with what they are able to accomplish in the NFL Draft. Arguably, they tend to have more success on day three and among undrafted free agents than most teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Among their latest notable late-round picks would be safety Chuck Clark, who filled in capably at strong safety last season after Tony Jefferson was lost for the remainder of the season. A third-year player having previously been drafted in the sixth round, he started 12 games last season, forcing two fumbles, recording an interception, and registering 68 tackles, plus a sack.
The Ravens rewarded him this week, as he heads into the final season of his rookie contract, with a nice pay raise via extension, giving him three more years worth a reported $15.3 million, which would be $5.1 million per season in new money. He was previously scheduled to make $735,000 this year, having signed a four-year rookie contract worth $2.6 million in total.
After signing, he recalled something a coach told him soon after he was drafted. That coach was point blank with him, basically saying that he would be lucky to make the 53-man roster as a special teamer, if he were to even get that far.
“It kind of pissed me off, but I was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to prove to them that I’m going to be here. I’m not just a special teams player; I know what I can do’”, he told the Ravens’ website as he remembered what they coach told him. “It was just a little fire”.
He did make the roster, and in fact has dressed for all but one game over the course of his three season in the NFL, registering 34 tackles over the course of his first two seasons before having the opportunity to play on defense last year due to injury.
What will his role be, however? That is the question for 2020. Jefferson is still under contract through the end of this season, but he is also coming off a season-ending knee injury. While he commands a bit dead-money charge of over $4.5 million, the Ravens could save $7 million via his base salary by releasing him.
I don’t expect that’s the route they would take, as he had been a reliable starter and team leader during his first two years with the team. He was their established safety after they parted with Eric Weddle, replacing him with Earl Thomas. Clark will likely have to wait his turn, biding his time, potentially, in sub-packages. And on special teams.