The Chicago Bears are short a couple of pass rushers and a handful of elite players at the position remain unsigned for the 2023 campaign.
Frank Clark has spent the entirety of his eight-year NFL career on championship-level defenses with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs, winning two Super Bowl rings and earning three trips to the Pro Bowl during that span. The defensive end hit the free agency market this offseason after he was unable to reach a compromise with the Chiefs on a reworked deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
At this point in his career, Clark may be a part-time pass rushing specialist but that’s a position that retains significant value to all teams, particularly for a franchise like Chicago that produced just 20 sacks all of last season. Matt Bowen of ESPN listed Clark as the 12th-best available free agent remaining on the market as of Wednesday, March 29.
“Clark logged just five sacks during the regular season for the Chiefs, but the postseason numbers jumped again for the veteran edge rusher,” Bowen wrote. “In Kansas City’s playoff run to a Super Bowl title, Clark posted 2.5 sacks and six pressures. Clark, who will turn 30 this summer, can upgrade an NFL front, even if it’s in a nickel pass-rushing role.”
Frank Clark Offers Bears Value as Situational Pass Rusher
Clark has been a steady regular season performer, amassing 58.5 sacks over the course of his career and averaging more than 30 quarterback pressures per season across his last five campaigns, per Pro Football Reference.
But as Bowen mentioned, Clark shines most when the lights are brightest. He has recorded 13.5 postseason sacks during his NFL career, which is good enough for third all-time behind Bruce Smith and Willie McGinest, per StatMuse.
The Bears don’t figure to be serious contenders in 2023, though the team’s free agency acquisitions and draft capital should allow for a considerable jump in the win column and perhaps even a shot at the playoffs depending on the development of quarterback Justin Fields.
Clark’s market value is just shy of $12.5 million annually over the length of a two-year contract, per Spotrac. And while he might not be well bought at that exact price, adding Clark at $9-$10 million annually for a couple of years could prove a value contract for what was an anemic Bears pass rush last season.
Bears Also Linked to Colts Pass Rusher Yannick Ngakoue
If the Bears decide instead to go younger and a little pricier, the team can look to defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, most recently of the Indianapolis Colts.
Bleacher Report dubbed Chicago an ideal fit for Ngakoue on March 18 due to his consistently productive play in the pass rush game over the course of his seven-year career. He is a couple of years younger than Clark and has been more reliable in the regular season over the last few seasons, producing a total of 9.5 sacks in 2022 and 65 sacks for his career.
Spotrac lists Ngakoue’s market value just shy of $15 million annually over the life of a four-year contract. Bowen ranked Ngakoue the second-best available free agent as of March 29.
“[Ngakoue] should be targeted as a situational pass-rusher, a role in which he can use his top-end traits to win on the edge: burst off the ball, hand usage and the ability to bend around offensive tackles,” Bowen wrote. “We know NFL teams value edge rushers, and so Ngakoue will have a market even if he tops out as a pass-rusher on nickel snaps.”