Clark Not Likely To Rejoin Steelers, Does This Affect Draft Approach?

Eric WordContributor IMarch 4, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 27:  Safety Ryan Clark #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 27, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

With just a little over an hour left until the 2010 free agency market opens, Ryan Clark will not rejoin the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clark's agent and the team cannot agree to a new deal, likely ending Clark's time in Pittsburgh.

Clark, 30, will be entering his 9th year in the league, the last four being with the Steelers.

Respectable hands and a devastating tackler, Clark has become one of the top free safeties in the league. Three interceptions and 89 tackles last year will make him one of the most sought-after safeties on the market, second to only Antrel Rolle.

Clark is a big piece in the Steelers secondary. He is probably the only safety in the league that can play next to Troy Polamalu and still be noticed.

If the Steelers fail to retain Clark, only one question looms: How does this affect the Steelers draft?

Pittsburgh already needs help in the secondary, however, with the departure of Clark, it could now reshape their entire approach. If available, I expect the Steelers to go after Taylor Mays, the 6-foot-3, 230 pound safety out of USC with their first pick.

If the Steelers can somehow retain Clark, expect a collective sigh of relief from the Black 'n Gold Nation (myself included).