Chuck Clark packed his belongings Monday, not sure if he had played his final game with the Ravens.
"Honestly, I don't know what's going to happen, so we'll figure (that) out in talks the next couple of weeks," Clark said.
Clark still has one year remaining on his contract, but he knows that doesn't guarantee him a place on Baltimore's roster. The Ravens made major changes at safety last offseason signing Marcus Williams in free agency and drafting Kyle Hamilton with the 14th overall pick. After the Ravens drafted Hamilton, Clark asked to be traded, figuring that his days as a starter in Baltimore were over.
However, Clark wasn't traded and kept his starting job with a strong training camp. He followed that with one of his best seasons in 2022 with a career-high 101 tackles while playing every snap on defense. He also continued his exemplary work in the community and was named the Ravens Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.
Clark is highly respected by coaches and teammates for his work ethic, toughness, leadership and knowledge of the defense. Whether he returns to the Ravens or not, the 2022 season was another impressive addition to Clark's resume.
"Honestly, I proved to myself that I know I'm still a baller – unshaken, unphased," Clark said. "At the end of the day, I've been balling.
"It was tough in the beginning, honestly. The people around here, they could tell you, I was frustrated. It was mentally challenging. I overcame it, and once I started balling, I got in my comfort zone – getting out there on the field and getting back to it. Once the season rolled around and I got back out there playing ball, it just all kind of went away. I was like, 'When the season ends, I guess, it will all handle itself.'''
The Ravens could decide to keep Clark, depending upon their overall plans for the defense. However, Williams and Hamilton changed the look of Baltimore's secondary and made it faster, more versatile and more capable of forcing turnovers. Williams started every game when he was healthy, led the team with four interceptions and used his sideline-to-sideline range to break up passes and discourage quarterbacks from making deep throws.
Hamilton became a major part of the defense after a rocky start, finishing with Pro Football Focus' second-highest grade (87.6) among all NFL rookies.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald used Hamilton like a Swiss army knife as a run defender, pass defender and blitzer. Hamilton was effective playing deep, in the slot or in the box. Hamilton has star potential and his performance steadily improved as the season progressed. The Wild-Card playoff game may have been Hamilton's best outing of the season, as he led the Ravens with nine tackles and put a crushing hit on Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst that forced a fumble which Hamilton recovered.
The Ravens often played Clark, Williams and Hamilton together in a three-safety look that allowed the defense to take advantage of their different skills. Clark would love to continue in that role and made it clear that his preference is to remain with the Ravens, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2017. As he gathered his things Monday, Clark hoped he wasn't leaving Baltimore's locker room for the last time.
"This is the team that drafted me, I've been here [for] all my career, I'm comfortable here, I know the other guys, the locker room, the environment," Clark said. "I don't know. Sometimes you've got to step out of your comfort zone. You never know what's going to happen."