“I’m playing,” Clark said after the Steelers beat the Browns, 20-7, at Heinz Field to finish 8-8 and remain alive for the playoffs. “Where that’s going to be I’m not sure. Hopefully I’m playing (next) Saturday or Sunday. That’s what’s really important to me.”
Indeed the Steelers weren’t quite ready for look at ahead to 2014 after beating the Browns for a 10th consecutive time in Pittsburgh. But a handful of Steelers such as Clark might have played their final game at Heinz Field on Sunday, even if Pittsburgh gets the help it needs from Kansas City and sneaks into the playoffs.
Clark will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he is unlikely to return in 2014 with the Steelers needing to get younger in their secondary.
They would have to pay Clark at least $955,000 next season, and he said he won’t settle for the minimum salary for veterans of at least 10 years to return to Pittsburgh.
“I think I’m worth more than that, and if they decide that I’m not then you have to understand that and you have to move on. I respect the business,” said Clark, who played in every game this season and joined linebacker Lawrence Timmons as the only Steelers with at least 100 tackles. “If they feel like they can move on without me and the team will be fine, that’s what they’ll do. They’ve got Hall of Famers that have finished in different jerseys, so I know I am going to be no different, and that’s OK with me.”
Clark signed with the Steelers in 2006 after previously playing for the Giants and Redskins. The former undrafted free agent has been one of the Steelers’ most productive and durable players since coming to Pittsburgh, as well as one of their most outspoken ones.
The 5-11, 205-pounder is also a fearless hitter, something that has endeared him to fans and teammates alike. Clark’s teammates voted him a captain for the first time this season, one of many things Clark will treasure from his time with the Steelers.
“Some of my best friends are here in Pittsburgh. It was a blessing and an honor to play for an organization like this, and I hope to continue playing,” Clark said. “But if not, there will be no hard feelings, nothing but great memories.”