Broncos Sign Frank Clark: How Will the Former Chief Fit Into Denver’s Pass-Rush Plans?

    Frank Clark is staying in the AFC West, as the former Chiefs DE is now a member of the Denver Broncos. How will the veteran pass rusher fit in?

    Another veteran edge defender domino has fallen. Just days after the Bills agreed to sign Leonard Floyd to a one-year deal, the Denver Broncos have landed pass rusher Frank Clark, who will stick in the AFC West after spending the past four seasons with the Chiefs.

    Frank Clark Joins Broncos’ Pass-Rushing Rotation

    Clark posted double-digit sacks twice during his four-year run with the Seahawks, but he never really became the top-flight pass rusher the Chiefs were hoping for after they traded a first-round pick to acquire him from Seattle in 2019.

    Although he somehow made the Pro Bowl in 2021, Clark bottomed out during that season and likely would have been released had he not agreed to a reworked contract to stay in Kansas City. Clark was more impressive last year, ranking 62nd among 126 qualifying edge defenders in pass-rush win rate, per PFF.

    While Clark isn’t an elite player (especially at this stage of his career), he’s a sound run defender who knows his assignments and performs inside his club’s defensive scheme. There’s value there, and Denver didn’t have to pay out the nose to bring Clark in.

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    Clark’s one-year contract includes $5.5 million in fully guaranteed base salary, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. (For reference, Floyd received $7 million in full guarantees from Buffalo.) Clark can also collect up to $2 million in incentives.

    Clark was one of several veteran free agent pass rushers the Broncos could have considered after releasing Jacob Martin in May. The edge defender market was surprisingly robust into June, and Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, Justin Houston, and others remain available.

    The Broncos Needed EDGE Depth

    Denver ranked seventh in pressure rate in 2022 and will enter next year without two of their most impressive pass rushers from last season. The Broncos traded Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins at last year’s deadline, then allowed Dre’Mont Jones to sign with the Seahawks during free agency.

    New addition Zach Allen will help replace Jones’ push on the interior, but Denver still had a vacancy on the edge, especially after cutting ties with Martin.

    MORE: Denver Broncos 2023 Schedule

    Randy Gregory has the tools to become a bona fide No. 1 pass rusher, but it’s unrealistic for the Broncos to rely on him staying healthy. Gregory has never completed a full slate of games and missed 11 contests with knee issues in 2022 after signing a five-year, $70 million deal with Denver.

    Baron Browning has shown flashes of dominant play after converting from inside linebacker to the edge, but it’s unclear if he’s ready to step into the void created by Chubb’s departure. Meanwhile, second-round rookie Nik Bonitto posted 19 pressures on 188 pass-rushing snaps last season but remains a virtual unknown.

    The Broncos had just five selections in the 2023 NFL Draft and didn’t use any of them on a pass rusher. Without that injection of youth, it makes sense that Denver decided to turn to the free agent market to find Clark.

    Pro Football Network’s Arif Hasan already projected the Broncos to have a top-10 defense next season. Clark may not move the needle all that much in those projections, but he’ll add a base layer of competency to a Denver pass-rushing group that desperately needed depth.

    Dallas Robinson is an NFL analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Dallas’ work here and follow him on Twitter: @dallasdrobinson.

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