The Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a big trade ahead of the NFL Draft, with Seattle sending defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs in exchange for multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder.
While the Seahawks are losing their top pass rusher, they are being well compensated in return. The trade, which was made official Thursday ahead of the first round of the draft, sends Kansas City's first-round pick in this year's draft, No. 29 overall, as well as a second-rounder in 2020 to Seattle in exchange for Clark. The Seahawks and Chiefs will also swap 2019 third-round picks as part of this deal, with the Seahawks sending Pick No. 84 to the Chiefs for the 92nd pick.
Clark, a second-round pick in 2015, compiled 32 sacks over the past three seasons, including a career-best 13 in 2018, and the Seahawks placed the franchise tag on him earlier this offseason with the hopes of working out a long-term deal. In addition to watching Clark grow as a player, the Seahawks have also been impressed with his growth as a man over the past four years.
"It's been marvelous to watch him grow," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said late last season. "He has grown within the program. How many years has he been here? Four? Yeah, so it's like he's a senior now and he's acting like it. He's embraced the opportunity and the role. He's grown through it. There's that freshman year and then the sophomore year and then he's just grown up right before our eyes and he speaks so clearly about how it all works together."
The Seahawks maintained throughout the offseason that they hoped to keep Clark, a player that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have both spoken very highly of, but they also knew that agreeing on an extension wouldn't be easy.
The Seahawks signed Russell Wilson to a four-year extension last week, and also hope to get something done with other players heading into the last year of their current contracts, most notably All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, and when asked Monday if keeping all of those players long term, Clark included, was feasible, Schneider acknowledged it was feasible but, "very challenging."
Because of that challenge, the Seahawks, as they always do, were willing to listen to offers, though as they showed in the past two years when they didn't trade other players rumored to be on the market before the draft, they were never going to make a deal without getting what they considered to be fair compensation.
"We're involved in a lot of deals," Schneider said Monday when asked about Clark trade rumors. "We take a lot of pride in that. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't listening to everybody… We take a lot of pride in having relationships through the league and understanding what's going on as much as we possibly can."
Adding a first-round pick is significant in any draft, but it's particularly helpful for the Seahawks this year because they previously only held four picks, having traded away their second, sixth and seventh-round picks. With two first-rounders, the Seahawks could potentially land two impact players, or use one or both of those picks to move back and pick up multiple picks on Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft. A 2020 second-rounder adds to what should be a considerable draft haul next year. In addition to the usual seven picks, the Seahawks are also expected to be awarded multiple compensatory picks having lost more free agents this offseason than they've added.
And if the Seahawks want to help fill the pass-rush void today or later in the draft, this is a good year for drafting defensive linemen. During an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle earlier this month, Schneider noted that this year's defensive line class, "Really stands out. I haven't seen this before, where you're looking up at the first round and there's a number of — it's like what flavor ice cream do you like, you know what I mean? You want a big run-stuffer? You want a quick three-technique? You want five edge rushers?"
As things stand now, here are the Seahawks' five picks heading into the 2019 Draft:
- Round 1, No. 21 Overall
- Round 1, No. 29 Overall
- Round 3, No. 92 Overall
- Round 4, No. 124 Overall
- Round 5, No. 159 Overall