The Baltimore Ravens did not expect safety Kyle Hamilton to be available by the time their turn came up to make a selection in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Ravens starting safety Chuck Clark certainly didn’t, either, and he wasn’t thrilled when his own team drafted a first-rounder at his position, just after making a high-priced free agent signing.
“I was definitely surprised. I didn’t know it was going to happen”, he said yesterday, speaking to reporters for the first time this offseason. So unexpected was it, and so compromising to his future with the team, that, as he himself confirmed, he requested a trade, seeing little opportunity for him.
“Me personally, I just felt the situation that I was in, how things were going, of course, yeah I did ask, ‘Can I get out of here?”, he said, via the team’s website. “And so, I felt like that didn’t happen and I wasn’t just going to give away my spot. If I’m not going to be a starter, it’s going to have to be taken from me”.
Back in March, the Ravens signed former New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams five-year contract worth $70 million. It goes without saying that they intend for him to be a starter. But Clark has no intentions of watching Hamilton waltz into the starting lineup without earning it.
Himself a sixth-round draft pick in 2017 out of Virginia Tech, Clark has been a full-time starter for the majority of the past three seasons, replacing Tony Jefferson after he suffered a torn ACL, and has held that post since then.
During that time, he has recorded 249 tackles including eight for loss, with four interceptions, 25 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, 3.5 sacks, and two defensive touchdowns, one off of an interception and another on one of his three fumble recoveries.
He’s been an all-around solid contributor, but not the kind that you would pass up a golden opportunity to upgrade from. And make no mistake, it’s certainly the intention for Hamilton to be a long-time starter at some point, but that doesn’t mean his first start will come in week one of his rookie season.
While he requested a trade, and admits that there was a point during which he very much had no idea which direction things would take, he never skipped any practice, even the voluntary OTAs, and now around with his team, he says, “I’m here, I’m locked in”.
For the time being, Clark is still on track to open the season as a starter next to Williams. Hamilton, who left practice recently with a minor injury, can contribute in sub-packages, something that the Ravens typically do well, especially given his versatility, until such time they feel he is ready to take on a full-time starting role.