Chuck Clark, NY Jets, Stats, Scouting, Report
Chuck Clark, New York Jets, Getty Images

Here’s everything you need to know about Chuck Clark and what he brings to the New York Jets

The New York Jets finally made a trade on Thursday – just not the one that fans have been waiting for. They dealt a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for safety Chuck Clark, who turns 28 in April.

At first glance, this seems like a somewhat inconsequential acquisition because of the compensation. However, Clark is a much better player than the compensation lets on.

Over the past three seasons, Clark started all 49 games he appeared in for the Baltimore Ravens, who allowed the third-fewest points per game in the NFL over that span. Clark has been a weekly starter over a three-year span for one of the best defensive teams in football.

Clark was likely going to be released if not traded, which is the main reason why the Jets got him for so cheap. Baltimore already made heavy investments in two other safeties last year; Marcus Williams was signed to a massive multi-year deal while Kyle Hamilton was selected in the first round. These investments forced Clark’s exit.

It’s worth noting, though, that Clark actually held onto his starting role over Hamilton throughout the entire 2022 season despite Baltimore investing an early draft pick in him, which is a testament to Clark.

What kind of safety is Clark? What are the strengths and weaknesses of his game? Is he good enough to be a Week 1 starter for New York?

Let’s answer all of these questions with a complete breakdown of Clark’s player profile.


Via Pro Football Focus, here is a breakdown of where Clark lined up in the 2022 season (ranks out of 73 qualified safeties):

  • Deep safety: 45.3% (43rd)
  • Box: 29.6% (27th)
  • Slot: 15.6% (28th)
  • Edge: 6.8% (11th)
  • Outside CB: 2.8% (19th)

Clark is an extremely versatile safety, ranking in the top half of the safety position in alignment frequency at four of the five positions tracked by PFF. He is capable of playing just about anywhere.

Relative to the league averages for safeties, Clark lines up as a deep safety the least often of any role (even though it’s actually where he lines up most frequently – this is because all NFL safeties are expected to line up in that position very frequently).

Here is a look at the league average alignment percentages for safeties in 2022, and how Clark’s numbers compare:

  • Deep safety: 51.2% (Clark: -5.9%)
  • Box: 26.7% (Clark: +2.9%)
  • Slot: 16.2% (Clark: -0.6%)
  • Edge: 3.9% (Clark: +2.9%)
  • Outside CB: 1.9% (Clark: +0.9%)

Baltimore favored placing Clark in the box and on the edge, while he played deep noticeably less often than the average safety.

In terms of where Clark would play in the Jets’ defense, it’s clear he would be better suited to take Jordan Whitehead’s role as the strong safety. The Jets ask both of their safeties to play deep, but they rarely ask their free safety to creep toward the line of scrimmage while their strong safety does it on about half of his snaps.

For comparison’s sake, here are Whitehead and Joyner’s alignment percentages from the 2022 season, placed alongside Clark’s:


  • Deep safety: 45.3% (43rd)
  • Box: 29.6% (27th)
  • Slot: 15.6% (28th)
  • Edge: 6.8% (11th)
  • Outside CB: 2.8% (19th)


  • Deep safety: 54.6% (33rd)
  • Box: 32.0% (23rd)
  • Slot: 10.8% (51st)
  • Edge: 1.7% (52nd)
  • Outside CB: 1.0% (48th)


  • Deep safety: 73.3% (6th)
  • Box: 14.0% (64th)
  • Slot: 10.4% (56th)
  • Edge: 2.1% (48th)
  • Outside CB: 0.2% (70th)

As you can see, Whitehead’s role is a much closer match to Clark’s than Joyner’s. It seems clear that Clark would most likely be asked to play strong safety in the Jets’ defense.



Clark’s best trait is undoubtedly his consistency as a tackler. He has established himself as one of the league’s most reliable tacklers at the safety position.

Clark has missed only 21 tackles over the past three seasons (7.0 per year). Combined with his total number of tackles, that gives him a missed tackle rate of just 7.3%. For perspective, the league average for safeties in 2022 was 11.6%.

Among 64 qualified safeties (min. 1,500 snaps), Clark had the ninth-lowest missed tackle rate from 2020 to 2022:

  1. Jimmie Ward, 49ers (2.8%)
  2. Jayron Kearse, Cowboys/Lions (4.3%)
  3. Kevin Byard, Titans (5.1%)
  4. Julian Love, Giants (5.6%)
  5. Adrian Phillips, Patriots (6.5%)
  6. Jalen Thompson, Cardinals (6.5%)
  7. Marcus Williams, Ravens/Saints (7.0%)
  8. Taylor Rapp, Rams (7.1%)
  9. Chuck Clark, Ravens (7.3%)
  10. Tashaun Gipson, 49ers/Bears (7.5)

In 2022, Clark had a missed tackle rate of 6.6%, which ranked 19th-best out of 96 qualified safeties.

Clark is a particularly great tackler in the run game. His missed tackle rate against the run is just 5.3% over the past three seasons.

Clark’s tackling skills would represent a huge upgrade over Jordan Whitehead, whose inconsistency as a tackler caused major problems for New York’s defense. This past season, Whitehead’s missed tackle rate was 15.6%, placing 80th out of 96 qualifiers. Over the past three seasons, Whitehead ranked 59th out of 64 qualifiers with a 14.7% missed tackle rate.

Whitehead struggled much more in the run game than many Jets fans realized. Sure, he made a cool-looking hit every now and then, but each one of those came at the cost of multiple mistakes as he played too recklessly in search of a big hit. Overall, Whitehead was one of the most negatively impactful run defenders on the team.

Clark’s soundness as a tackler would greatly improve the Jets’ run defense.

Run game activity

Clark provides above-average involvement in the run game. Here are his ranks among safeties in run stops and run-stop rate over the last three seasons:

  • 2022: 10 run stops (30th among S), 2.6% run-stop rate (31st of 70 qualifiers)
  • 2021: 14 run stops (10th), 4.2% run-stop rate (14th of 70 qualifiers)
  • 2020: 15 run stops (11th), 4.2% run-stop rate (16th of 65 qualifiers)

Some safeties make a lot of stops, but those come in exchange for a lot of misses. Some safeties miss very few tackles, but they don’t make many stops.

Clark’s combined ability to produce stops at a solid rate while also missing tackles at a low rate is a sign that he does a great job of fulfilling his all-around responsibilities as a run defender. He stays active in the run game and remains disciplined while doing so.

Over the past three seasons, Clark had 39 run stops to go with only eight missed tackles against the run, giving him a sparkling ratio of 4.9-to-1. The 2022 league average for safeties was just 1.6-to-1.

That’s a huge disparity.

For comparison, Whitehead’s ratio was 1.3-to-1, recording 17 stops and 13 misses.

Every-down ability

Clark has plenty of experience as an every-down player. In games he appeared in over the past four seasons, Clark only missed a total of four snaps. He plays every snap unless he comes off due to injury or for rest at the end of a blowout.

Over the past three seasons, Clark donned the green dot on the back of his helmet for Baltimore, meaning he was the player who was in contact with the coaching staff between plays and would relay calls to the defense.


Throughout his six-year career, Clark has only missed two games. He ranks fourth among defensive backs with 96 games played since 2017.


Coverage (Especially in deep zone)

Clark isn’t terrible in coverage, but his career track record in that area is mediocre.

For his career, Clark has allowed 129 completions on 187 targets for 1,360 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions. That equates to a passer rating of 101.9. Comparatively, the 2022 league average for safeties was 94.0.

In 2022, Clark allowed 27 catches on 39 targets for 237 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 102.2.

Clark’s splits in coverage are interesting. He performs very well in the slot but struggles otherwise.

Clark career coverage when lined up in the slot:

  • 59 targets
  • 35 completions
  • 345 yards
  • 3 TD
  • 2 INT
  • 78.7 passer rating
  • 5.8 yards per target

Clark career coverage when lined up anywhere other than the slot:

  • 128 targets
  • 94 completions
  • 1,015 yards
  • 10 TD
  • 3 INT
  • 112.6 passer rating
  • 7.9 yards per target

Digging deeper, it seems that Clark’s poor non-slot coverage numbers primarily stem from reps where he played deep zone coverage as part of a two-high shell.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, here are Clark’s coverage numbers when lining up as a deep safety and playing zone coverage as one of two high safeties:

  • 17 targets
  • 13 completions
  • 196 yards
  • 3 TD
  • 0 INT
  • 153.4 passer rating
  • 11.5 yards per target

Even if you take these throws out, Clark’s non-slot passer rating is still an underwhelming 103.4, so there are some other coverage roles where he is slightly below average. But deep zone coverage is easily his worst trait.

Clark’s success as a slot defender primarily comes from his dominance against tight ends. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, here are Clark’s coverage numbers when covering a tight end out of the slot:

  • 25 targets
  • 10 completions
  • 103 yards
  • 2 TD
  • 1 INT
  • 62.6 passer rating
  • 4.1 yards per target

Allowing a completion percentage of 40.0% to go with only 4.1 yards per target, Clark has dominated tight ends out of the slot. It’s worth noting that 19 of those 25 targets came in man coverage (allowing 8 catches for a 42.1% completion rate), so he is fully capable of thriving in one-on-one situations against tight ends.

Expect Clark to hold his own when he mans up against tight ends in the slot. In any other coverage role, he will be shaky – especially if he is playing the deep half in a two-high look.


Clark committed four penalties in 2022, which tied him for the fourth-most among safeties. That included two pass interference calls, one holding call, and a facemask call.

Clark kept his hands clean in 2021, committing only one penalty, but in 2020, he was called for a whopping total of seven penalties. Not only did that lead safeties in 2020, but it is the highest single-season total by a safety over the past five seasons. Four of his seven penalties were for pass interference.

Clark has the ability to be a cost-effective stopgap replacement for Jordan Whitehead

Jordan Whitehead is set to have a cap hit of $10.2 million this season. The Jets can release Whitehead to clear $7.2 million in cap space while eating only $3 million in dead money.

Meanwhile, Clark’s cap hit will only be $4.1 million this season.

Releasing Whitehead in favor of starting Clark at strong safety seems like the wisest move for New York. Clark isn’t a long-term answer, but for one year, he can provide the Jets with excellent bang for their buck considering his modest cap hit and minimal trade cost.

Clark has the potential to be an upgrade over Whitehead. Both players struggle in coverage and are better known for their presence around the line of scrimmage, but Clark is a significantly more reliable tackler and run defender than Whitehead.

Perhaps Whitehead makes more eye-popping highlight plays than Clark, but in terms of overall consistency and net impact, Clark appears to be the better player. He makes far fewer negative plays as a box defender than Whitehead. The Jets’ run defense would experience a significant boost courtesy of the many missed tackles that would be translated into stops if they swapped Whitehead for Clark.

I know it will be hard for many Jets fans to fully appreciate this move until they are finished enduring the stress of the Aaron Rodgers saga, but Joe Douglas might have just pulled off one of his best trades.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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6 months ago

Great article and analysis, thanks Mike.
I agree, this is an absolute homerun for the Jets and Joe D.
You mention that you see this as a short-term answer, so do
you see us drafting a safety too?

6 months ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

You think they can/are trying to trade Whitehead? They will need that $7.2m for sure. Is he worth anything?