Clark countdown is on

Combine logoAs the Combine begins, we’re just a few days from finding out where the Seahawks and Frank Clark stand.

Schneider surely will be meeting Clark’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, this week to continue talks that apparently started last summer/fall.

At the Combine on Wednesday morning, Schneider said, “Communication has been great. There’s a strong level of trust between the two of us.” Asked whether he would franchise him, the GM said, “Don’t know yet.”

If they don’t get a deal by the end of the weekend, Seattle will have to decide whether to put the franchise tag on Clark by Tuesday. And Clark apparently would be fine with that.

“Frank and I are not scared of the franchise tag,” Burkhardt told ESPN in October. “It’s what (Ezekiel) Ansah and (DeMarcus) Lawrence have done. They get that top-of-the-market value for one year, and 12 months later will get their long-term deal as well. That’s winning.”

Dallas is talking to Lawrence about a long-term deal, and the Jets reportedly are interested in the injury-prone Ansah (though can’t talk to him until March 11). Meanwhile, the Rams reportedly are trying to re-sign Dante Fowler and the Patriots might re-sign Trey Flowers. Deals for any of those players would help frame Clark’s value.

Clark figures to seek at least $40 million guaranteed in a long-term deal, with a yearly average of at least $17 million — the amount of the franchise tag.

If the Hawks surprise everyone and don’t tag (or extend) Clark by Tuesday, they will have a huge hole in their pass rush and will need to look elsewhere for help.

It’s a strong draft for defensive linemen — something Schneider and company will see firsthand at the Combine this week (the D-linemen work out Sunday). But the Hawks really need two good veteran rushers. If Clark is not one of them, they will need to look for possible cuts — Miami’s Robert Quinn, Minnesota’s Everson Griffen, New York’s Olivier Vernon, Kansas City’s Justin Houston, Indy’s Jabaal Sheard, Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy or Jacksonville’s Malik Jackson — and explore the UFA market.

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