Popular Former Ravens Starter Felt ‘Disrespected’ Before Trade

Chuck Clark

Getty A popular former Baltimore Ravens' starter couldn't wait to be traded to the New York Jets.

He was once a popular figure on the Baltimore Ravens’ defense, but Chuck Clark felt “disrespected” by the franchise before being traded to the New York Jets earlier this offseason.

Strong safety Clark knew “it was time to get out of there” once the Ravens selected Kyle Hamilton 14th overall in the 2022 NFL draft, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

Hamilton joined veteran safety Marcus Williams, signed from the New Orleans Saints in free agency a year ago. Their arrivals made Clark surplus to requirements, and the Ravens were smart to get a seventh-round pick in 2024 in return.

The deal also saved Baltimore as much as $4.14 million under the salary cap, according to Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland. As McFarland noted, the Ravens would’ve saved “about $600K less” had they simply released Clark.

General manager Eric DeCosta instead dealt Clark into a position to start this year when he’d likely have warmed the bench if he’d stayed at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ex-Ravens Draft Steal Saw His Role Taken

Clark actually saw his snap count increase during Hamilton’s rookie year in 2022. After playing 1,025 snaps in 2021, Clark played 1,093 and started all 17 games, per Pro Football Reference.

It became obvious, though, that the Ravens were preparing Hamilton for a role Clark once had all to himself. Notably, a role as a key part of the team’s blitz packages.

Clark used to attack more than other safety, as numbers from 2019 provided by Next Gen Stats showed.

It was significant Clark’s blitz tally dropped from 39 in 2021 to just 14 last season. The decline was in sharp contrast to Hamilton, who blitzed 24 times, notched two sacks and generated six pressures.

Hamilton increasingly became a feature of the pressures designed by defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Like for this rush against AFC North rivals the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, highlighted by ESPN’s Matt Bowen.

The presence of fellow safety Geno Stone on the same blitz underscored Clark’s diminished status. So did a contract situation that was a year in the making.

Disgruntled Raven Waited a Year to Leave

As NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport detailed, Clark began 2020 by signing a lucrative extension. Yet, his mind was made up on his future just over two years later when Hamilton’s name was called.

In fact, Clark wanted out a year ago, per Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic.

Enduring another season disgruntled with his revised role was a sad way for Clark to see out his time with the Ravens. The tenure had benefited both parties when Clark went from an unheralded sixth-round pick in 2017 to a being a key personality on one of the league’s toughest defenses.

Clark’s value on the field was obvious, but so was his commendable reputation away from the gridiron. He was the team’s 2022 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

Ravens.com’s Clifton Brown detailed how Clark “regularly attends local high school games and participates in the Ravens All-Abilities PLAY 60 Clinic with Special Olympics Maryland,” among other activities related to children’s health and youth sports participation.

Clark made a positive impact in Baltimore, but the business realities of life in the NFL can be unsentimental. The Ravens opted to go with a younger and more versatile athlete at a key position in their secondary.

DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh also knew they needed to cut costs to make room for quarterback Lamar Jackson’s next deal. Jackson eventually signed a five-year extension worth $260 million, and Clark’s exit, along with the release of defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce, helped create enough space under the cap.

Making those tough decisions is the prerogative of DeCosta and Harbaugh, but Clark’s hard-nosed playing style and enthusiasm away from the field will surely make him an asset for the Jets.

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