The Pittsburgh Steelers have called safety Ryan Clark a priority this off-season but Joel Turner, the agent for Clark, is waiting for the Steelers to back up that statement.
I just had an eight minute phone conversation with Turner this morning who called Clark the best free safety in the game, indicating that Clark “has his best 4 years ahead of him, ” referencing to safeties Darren Sharper (35 yrs old) and Brian Dawkins (34 yrs old)
When discussing Clark’s play on the field in 2009, Turner said “he {Ryan Clark} was the best player on defense this year and had the best year of his career.”
Turner also mentioned that Clark “won two games” for the Steelers this past season, referencing to Clark’s 4th quarter game saving interceptions against the Detroit Lions in week 5 and the Miami Dolphins in week 17.
Clark’s value off the field also can’t be overlooked, as he is one of the most popular players in the locker room and Turner mentioned to me on two occasions that Clark being named an alternate player rep behind Charlie Batch (13 year veteran) just shows how important Clark is to the Steelers in a leadership role.
We also discussed how the Steelers took care of a number of players last off-season but not Clark. Turner told me there were discussions between the two sides but due to the Steelers being tight against the cap and taking care of a number of offensive linemen, the two sides were never close to a new deal.
Turner was very blunt in not only calling Clark one of the most important players on the team, but also indicating he’s just as important as “Heath Miller” who signed a 6 year deal worth $35.3 million last summer that included $12 million guaranteed.
However, how important the Steelers see Clark remains to be seen as the teams focus has been on Casey Hampton and Jeff Reed for now.
“He {Ryan Clark} should be a priority, ” Turner said, as there were no indications from Turner that up to this point that Clark is a priority by the Steelers.
Turner is still waiting for the Steelers to step up to the bargaining table. This week could be the pivotal point in negotiations as Turner will meet face-to-face with Steelers executive Omar Khan at the scouting combine on Thursday or Friday of this week.

Turner made it known to me that Ryan Clark has a strong interest in returning to Pittsburgh but I was also given no indications that a home-town discount will be in the works.
Turner didn’t get into specifics but he mentioned the contracts of Chris Kemoeatu and Max Starks pertaing to those contracts being in the $20 million+ range.
Based on what I was able to gather, Turner is eyeing a 4-5 year deal in the 25+ million range.
One option for the Steelers could be placing the transition tag on Clark. The transition tag is a one-year contract equal to the average salary of the top ten players in the league at the player’s position. This would guarantee the Steelers the right of first refusal to match any offer Clark may make with another team.
If another club offers a contract to a transitioned player, his original club has seven days to decide whether the original club will match that offer or not.
I asked Turner if the Steelers have ruled out placing the transition tag on Clark and Turner said, “they haven’t mentioned it, so I am not sure.”
With the Steelers lack of depth at the safety position, the transition tag could be a viable option for Pittsburgh.
Franchise and Transition Tags
QUARTERBACK: $16.405m (franchise), $14.546m (transition)
RUNNING BACK: $8.156m (franchise), $7.151m (transition)
WIDE RECEIVER: $9.521m (franchise), $8.651m (transition)
TIGHT END: $5.908m (franchise) , $5.248m (transition)
OFFENSIVE LINE: $10.731m (franchise), $9.142m (transition)
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: $7.003m (franchise), $6.353m transition)
DEFENSIVE END: $12.398m (franchise), $10.193m (transition)
LINEBACKER: $9.680m (franchise), $8.373m (transition)
CORNERBACK: $9.566 million (franchise), $8.056 million (transition)
SAFETY: $6.455m (franchise), $6.011m transition)