Colts change strategy with Clark

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Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark is getting a raise. A big one. Two years ago, Clark was making $650,000. With the six-year contract Clark inked yesterday, he now figures to make $6 million plus per year. That doesn’t approach the $11 million the Colts paid quarterback Peyton Manning last year, or the whopping $30 million signing bonus the team doled out for defensive end Dwight Freeney. But Clark’s new contract will make him the highest paid tight end in the National Football League, sources said.

The Colts’ strategy with Clark is quite a departure from the team’s previous salary cap tactics when they let tight ends Marcus Pollard and Ken Dilger go when both still had considerable tread left on their tires.

“It boils down to the versatility Clark brings to the table, the chemistry he brings to the locker room, the fact that he has excellent hands, is able to find the soft spot in the defense and is a clutch receiver,” said Ed Thompson, an NFL writer for and publisher of

It may also have something to do with team owner Jim Irsay’s appetite for winning. League insiders said Irsay has become hungrier since notching his first Super Bowl championship as an owner in 2007. Irsay has increased the team’s payroll from $54.2 million in 2000 to a league leading $131.2 million in 2006. Last season it was down to $103 million, but NFL insiders expect it to bump back up with Clark’s signing.

Do you think Clark is worth the money the Colts are paying?

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