Dallas Clark spent his first eight NFL seasons as one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets, then joined Manning in getting cut by the Colts this week. Now Clark is an unrestricted free agent, and he may be a Manning target again.
Just as several reports have indicated that the team that signs Manning will be the immediate frontrunner to sign former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne as well, signing Clark could make sense for the team that signs Manning as well. Manning is a creature of habit who would surely love to have familiar receivers around him to ease the transition into a new offense, wherever he ends up.
The difference between Wayne and Clark, however, is that Wayne appears to have more gas left in the tank than Clark does. Wayne’s numbers declined just as everyone’s numbers declined in the Manning-less Indianapolis offense last season, but he still started all 16 games and caught 75 passes for 960 yards. Clark had only 34 catches for 352 yards last season while being hobbled by a leg injury.
But the fact that Clark doesn’t appear to have a lot left should mean that he’ll be affordable for whatever team signs Manning. There won’t be a whole lot of suitors for Clark’s services.
One team that may be interested, however, is the place where Peyton’s brother plays: The Giants lost two tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, to torn ACLs in the Super Bowl, and both are expected to open the 2012 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Even if Clark is no longer playing at a Pro Bowl level he’s an upgrade at the position for the defending champions.
So Clark could make sense as a target for Manning next season. Either Peyton or Eli.