Now full-time ESPN analyst Ryan Clark reflects on start of free agency period

NFL Live - January 14, 2015
(L-R) Host Trey Wingo with analysts Mark Schlereth, Jeff Saturday and Ryan Clark on the set of NFL Live. Clark says, “I hope [the fans] get fun, intelligent analysis from me whenever I’m on TV or radio.” (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Though he’s the newest member of ESPN’s NFL analyst team, former NFL safety Ryan Clark has veteran status around the Bristol, Conn., campus. An active player/analyst before joining ESPN on a full-time basis, Clark was a part of ESPN’s free agency coverage last year while he was a free agent himself.

Now, recently retired from pro football, Clark spoke with Front Row, sharing his thoughts on this year’s class and what free agency is like for the players involved.

Ryan Clark - Pittsburgh Steelers - November 12, 2012
For much of 13-year NFL career, Ryan Clark played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

What intrigues you about this year’s free agent class?
One of the intriguing things about free agency is all the names added to the list from veteran roster cuts. Some of those dominos have already fallen, but the cuts gave us a surplus of talent we weren’t expecting. The other thing is Ndamukong Suh’s deal. It’s expected to be over $100 million. When a defender gets this much money, a quarterback-like impact is expected. I don’t think Suh will be J.J. Watt, but he won’t be Albert Haynesworth. Is somewhere in the middle worth it?

What is the free agent experience like from a player’s standpoint?
The free agent experience varies depending on the player. For some, it will be a nerve-wracking time filled with people giving you the reasons they can’t meet your contract request. It’s a time filled with countless emotion and thought.

What was an important lesson you learned going through free agency as a player?
The NFL is a business. It’s a big business at that. So, I focused on thinking “it’s strictly business, not personal.” Until I saw those teams on Sunday, because then it was personal.

Editor’s Note: Clark will discuss NFL free agency in depth with ESPN NFL hosts, analysts and Insiders during today’s three-hour block of NFL Insiders and NFL Live (3-6 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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