Oct 16, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Ryan Clark on the ESPN Monday Night Football Countdown set SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While the NFL offseason is now here, free agency won’t officially begin until March. But from a sports media perspective, one of the league’s top targets has already hit the open market, with Ryan Clark taking to social media on Wednesday to reveal that his deal at ESPN has expired.

“3 years ago I signed an extension with ESPN. I was so grateful for more time. I excited to prove I was worth more, felt I deserved more. We disagreed, & that’s ok. I set out on a mission to leave no doubt, end all conversations about my who I was in this business,” Clark posted, along with an accompanying video.

“I knew it would take effort. I knew that effort didn’t promise results, but I dug in. Here we are now. The season is over. The deal is up. Time to make a decision. Either way it goes. The mission don’t change. I want to be the best doing it. Everyone should. I’m more motivated today than ever. I’m still the same #UndraftedFreeAgent !”

Suffice to say, the former NFL defensive back now finds himself with much more negotiating leverage than he had three years ago. Clark has since emerged as not just one of ESPN’s best personalities, but also one of its most versatile, with the rare ability to work as both an analyst and host and discuss topics outside of the NFL. His work there has included appearing on Monday NFL Countdown as of this season, regularly appearing on SportsCenter, Get Up, and First Take, and hosting the DC and RC MMA podcast/ESPN2 show with Daniel Cormier. And he won his first Sports Emmy last spring, winning for Outstanding Personality/Studio Analyst.

In addition to his work on ESPN, Clark has hosted The CW’s Inside the NFL and built The Pivot Podcast into a force to be reckoned with. Despite the podcast landscape being oversaturated with shows hosted by former athletes, The Pivot has stood apart thanks to its steady stream of high profile guests and the personality of its former Pro Bowl safety host.

As for where Clark goes from here, the possibilities are endless. He could return to ESPN in what one would imagine would be an expanded role, land at another network or continue to focus on growing The Pivot.

Or maybe, he’ll leave the media behind altogether and tackle a different goal.

[Ryan Clark on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.