If you’re the sort who looks for signals that a player’s run with a particular team is about to come to an end, you’d have a field day with Steelers safety Ryan Clark these days.
Clark is turning 34 in October and entering the final year of his contract with the Steelers, who drafted Shamarko Thomas last month to learn from Clark now and presumably replace him down the road. What’s more, Clark has spent some time flapping his gums as an analyst on ESPN in what’s played out like an audition for a permanent role once his playing career comes to an end.
Clark says that all that smoke doesn’t add up to fire, however. He isn’t planning for a future off the football field just yet and also isn’t looking to find a new team once the 2013 season comes to an end.
“I want to be here. I would love to be a Steeler until I retire,” Clark said, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But I don’t want this to be my last year. I did the ESPN thing because it’s smart to do it. I didn’t do it because I’m ready to stop playing football.”
Clark’s been around the team long enough to know that every player reaches an expiration date with the Steelers and he credits the organization as being smart “about letting guys go when they feel like they don’t have what’s left to be here.” Clark’s play in 2012 offered little reason to believe that he doesn’t have what it takes to do the job, although the other factors at play might mean that he has to continue doing the job in a different uniform.