FLORHAM PARK — One of the main bright spots from the New York Jets during the 2022 regular season was their secondary had appeared to turn a corner into NFL dominance.
With the emergence of reigning defensive rookie of the year Sauce Gardner, and a collection of recently signed free agents, Gang Green’s secondary finished third in passing yards given up and first in touchdowns given up through the air.
New York’s secondary will look different in 2023 though following the free-agent departure of Lemarcus Joyner. In his place, the Jets traded for a Swiss army knife at the safety position in former Baltimore Ravens safety, Chuck Clark. In six seasons with the Ravens, Clark has been a constant force both in coverage and against the run. Pro Football Focus graded his previous year at an above-average 66.
For a player that has started every game he’s been in over the last three years, it’s difficult to determine why the Ravens decided to move on from the former sixth-round selection. Clark tallied over 100 tackles last season and had four passes defended while also covering against some of the best tight ends in football. The Jets gave up just a 2024 seventh-round pick for the disgruntled starter.
In regards to his time in Baltimore though, Clark held no punches back from his former team.
“I asked for it (a trade) last year and they wouldn’t do it so we finally came to an agreement that when the year was over, I was going to be ready to go,” Clark stated. “Just the situation I was put in and the things that were said to me…the position that I thought I was in, I wasn’t being respected in at the time so it was time for a change.”
Part of Clark’s frustration certainly had come from the Ravens’ offseason plans over the last few years. Baltimore added Marcus Williams to a lucrative contract while also drafting Notre Dame prospect Kyle Hamilton with the 14th overall selection in last year’s draft.
It was the Hamilton selection though that showed the writing on the wall for Clark.
“That, and a few other things as well. I was a starter on the team, and to not try to get too far into it, there were some things that I wasn’t respected in at the moment,” Clark explained.
Now a member of the Jets, Clark’s main goal is to get acclimated to a defense that already has multiple All-Pros in front of him while trying to maintain the level of excellence the team started to create last year.
That all starts on the communication side with fellow starting safety, Jordan Whitehead.
“It’s just off the field, vibing and gelling. Now, he’s teaching me a whole different thing. It’s all been starting with our off-the-field communication,” Clark said.
His goals going into the season remains pretty simple for Clark. The safety is looking for a new deal and believes he’s already shown enough to warrant a nice contract extension for the Jets or whoever ends up the former Raven’s services.
It’ll be up to Clark to show he’s not only earned a nice extension though, but also that he’s one of the better, and more versatile safeties in the game today. The money, as he believes, will come later.
“I’ll just let it eat out and do what I gotta do. I feel like I proved what I can do last year, the situation I was put in last year so just let this year out and do what I have to do.