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For Clark, Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Ryan Clark has tried to be patient. He really has. But when it's slow around the house, between visits to Redskins Park and shopping trips with his wife, he sometimes dials up his agent and peppers him with questions about the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

Pending free agents like Clark are in a holding pattern as the NFL and the players union continue to negotiate an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) this week.

Clark, who is unrestricted, has made it clear that he would like to remain a Redskin. But he also feels like he has an opportunity to provide for his wife and three children and help his family in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, his hometown.

"I feel like I've played well enough to put myself in the position to help my family, help my parents out and get some things straight in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina," Clark said. "So that's what I'm trying to do: get fair value for what I've done."

First Clark has to wait for a resolution on the CBA. The start of free agency has been delayed twice already and is now scheduled to start on Thursday, March 9 at 12:01 a.m. That's when Clark officially becomes a free agent.

Most NFL teams are waiting on making major decisions in the free agency market until after the 2006 salary cap is determined. An extension of the CBA would likely increase the amount of cap space available.

Through the delays, Clark has stayed in good spirits.

"You swing back and forth with this CBA every time," he said. "Even if they decide it, I still have no idea what it would mean. I'm very inquisitive. I call my agent and I ask, 'What does this mean and what does that mean?' I think he's tired of talking to me, but I just want to know. I want to make a smart decision."

Clark, a fourth-year veteran, started 12 games last season and finished with 65 tackles (45 solo), three interceptions, a half-sack and a forced fumble.

Along with Clark, running back Rock Cartwright, defensive end Demetric Evans, tight end Robert Royal and linebacker Khary Campbell are among the Redskins' unrestricted free agents.

Head coach Joe Gibbs has said that he hopes the team is able to keep its free agents. If they do explore other options, Gibbs hopes that they give the Redskins the chance to match any offers.

"With our free agents, we think we have the best place for them," Gibbs said.

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