Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – S Ryan Clark


By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Ryan Clark

Position: Safety

Experience: 13 Years


The Pittsburgh Steelers were blessed to have arguably the best safety tandem in the league for a decent stretch over the past half-decade or so with the future Hall of Famer and former first-round pick Troy Polamalu, paired with the former undrafted free agent Ryan Clark. With both players approaching their mid-30s, however, their days are numbered.

Clark’s time, at least in Pittsburgh, may already be up after arguably his worst full season with the team. His salary cap hit in 2013 of nearly $5 million is certainly not indicative of how he performed on the field, and given his comments during the season indicating an unwillingness to deal in order to remain in a favorable and stable position, all indications seem to suggest a parting of ways.

Far too often, lately, the Steelers’ defense has been relying on Clark to make tackles at the back end, rather than taking care of business up front. Since the 2010 season, their last Super Bowl appearance, Clark has totaled triple-digit tackles for three straight years, in 2013 posting a career-high 104.

That included four games of double-digit tackles, including a season-high 13 in the opener against the Tennessee Titans. This actually was one of Clark’s best games of the year. His play was quite poor for several weeks after, however, until he got to go against a rookie quarterback against the New York Jets.

He made an easy read of Geno Smith’s eyes for an interception near the sideline, one of two on the year. The other also came off a rookie quarterback; he picked off Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel a few weeks later.

Clark certainly does not possess the play-making ability to actually make up for all the errors that he displayed this past season, however, which badly hurt the Steelers’ defensive efforts against both the run and the pass.

He led the team, for example, in missed tackles with 13—tied in that category with Ike Taylor, according to Pro Football Focus—contributing to one of the most fundamentally poor defensive units the Steelers have trotted out to the field in some time. As a unit, they missed 110 tackles; in a good year, that number is halved.

Perhaps more damaging, however, were his breakdowns in coverage. Some were more obvious than others. There was the long reception to Tyler Eifert in the second week of the season. Then there was the long 79-yard touchdown to Calvin Johnson that left Taylor on one-on-one coverage. There were certainly others.

As we sit here reflecting after the season, the matter simply boils down to how he played. The truth is that he barely played at replacement level. Given that he’ll be 35 in October and that he evidently expects to make multiple millions of dollars next season, it should surprise nobody if he’s not re-signed.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – FB Will Johnson
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Brett Keisel
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – NT Steve McLendon
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Cameron Heyward
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB LaMarr Woodley
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB Jason Worilds
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Lawrence Timmons
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB Ike Taylor
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB William Gay
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – S Troy Polamalu

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • 20Stoney

    I appreciate his time here, but he’s done now. I wish he wasn’t going out talking like he is, but we all know why he’s doing it.

  • steeltown

    I’ve always liked Clark since we signed him, but it’s time

  • John Hinton

    Simply put…the time has come to part ways.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Should have stated it as “End of Career Player Exit Meeting – S Ryan Clark”

  • steeltown

    Man I hope we can get a guy like Bucannon in this draft, I actually hope he has a poor combine so that his draft stock doesn’t rise

  • WIINGY

    Bring on Calvin Pryor!

  • T R

    I love that i met Ryan and took photo with im last year during Training Camp.. Thank you for you services and one of the best fan appreciated players at training camp and other public appearances.. Your will be missed but its time to see you as a TV Analyst where u belong now..