During the Oakland Raiders offseason upheaval of player movement, linebacker Danny Clark was under the radar of many people’s discussions.
The Raiders free agent signings, by and large, have not panned out in 2004 but Clark cannot be lumped into a problem area. Oakland (5-10) finishes its season Sunday at home against Clark’s former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Clark said. “They’re a darn good football team. I’m very excited to play against them.”
The free agent signings of defensive tackles Ted Washington and Warren Sapp headlined the Raiders offseason moves but neither player has provided the goods that the team expected.
Clark, who earned the nickname "Hammerhead," was hardly a high-profile signing as he started just 28 games in four seasons, including nine in 2003. But his ability to stop the run and make big hits on special teams made him the kind of versatile linebacker that Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and special-teams coach Joe Avezzano coveted.
“I appreciate where I am,” Clark said. “I bleed Silver & Black now. I would like to be here forever. The past is the past and I’ve put it behind me. At the same time, I still have a bit of a chip. I’ll be ready to play. Any time you play a team that you feel didn’t deal you the best hand, you get to be a bit aggressive. I’m just going to play to the best of my ability.”
Jacksonville, however, was not willing to spend much to keep Clark. At which point, the Raiders moved in with a three-year, $3.485 million offer -- including a cost-effective $600,000 signing bonus.
“They weren’t aggressive in their approach to bring me back,” Clark said. “If they wanted me back, they could have gotten me back.”
Clark added that the source of his frustration in Jacksonville was not on the football side, pertaining to teammates and coaches.
“They liked me, I liked them,” Clark said. “It’s just the business side never got worked out.”
Clark also appreciated his relationship with head coach Jack Del Rio, himself a former NFL linebacker with New Orleans, Minnesota and Kansas City.
“It was a very good relationship,” Clark said. “I had a lot of respect for him. Any time a guy can go from playing the game to coaching the game you have to respect him because he’s been there.”
Vince D’Adamo can be reached at email@example.com