Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keep Casey Hampton or Ryan Clark?

With both Hampton and Clark about to be unrestricted free agents, this is a pretty tough decision for the Steelers.  Both players are key contributors to the defense. 

Hampton is really the cog of the 3-4 scheme.  He takes on blockers and opens the holes for the linebackers to make the plays.  While he's somewhat unheralded because of his stats, he's extremely valuable to the performance of the defense.  He will be 33 at the start of next season and has a history of injury and weight issues.

Clark is the safety valve of the defense when Troy Polamalu is flying all over the place.  Yes, he was exposed this season without Polamula in the line up, but who wasn't exposed on the defense this past year.  He is a couple of years younger than Hampton and probably has a little less wear and tear on his body because of the position he plays.  Clark is one of the most ferocious hitters in the NFL and receivers fear him coming across the middle.

Both players will be looking for top 5 money at their positions and the Steelers will not be able to sign both.  If Hampton does not come back, the team may need to shift to a 4-3 defense, a potential major philosophy change.  And, losing Clark would present a depth problem at safety.

Who do you think is more important for the defense to be successful again in 2010?

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