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Steelers let safety Clark become free agent

Ryan Clark may have played his last game for the Steelers.

Despite a mutual desire for Clark to return to the Steelers, the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract for the hard-hitting safety prior to the start of free agency.

As of 12:01 a.m. today, Clark became free to negotiate and sign with any other team.

The Steelers and Clark's agent, Joel Turner, are expected to keep talking about a new deal. But another team could set the market for Clark and offer him more than the Steelers are willing to pay the eighth-year veteran.

The 5-11, 205-pounder is one of the top safeties on the open market.

Clark, 30, tied for the Steelers lead in interceptions (three) last season and was second in tackles (89). He has been a starter since signing with the Steelers in 2006.

While the Steelers were not able to get a deal done with Clark, they were busy leading up to the start of free agency.

They signed nose tackle Casey Hampton to a three-year, $21.3 million contract and used the franchise tag on Jeff Reed, guaranteeing themselves exclusive negotiating rights with the veteran kicker.

The Steelers also offered one-year contracts this week to right tackle Willie Colon, punter Daniel Sepulveda, cornerback William Gay and tight end Matt Spaeth. All are restricted free agents. The Steelers would get a draft pick in return, including a first-rounder for Colon, if any of the four sign with another team and the offer is not matched.

The Steelers did not offer a contract to Darnell Stapleton, who started 15 games at right guard in 2008 but missed all of last season because of a knee injury.

Steelers free agents

Players on this list were free to negotiate with other teams and sign elsewhere as of 12:01 a.m. today:

» Ryan Clark, S

» Willie Parker, RB

» Darnell Stapleton, G/C

» Deshea Townsend, CB

» Tyrone Carter, S

» Travis Kirschke, DE

» Nick Eason, DE

» Charlie Batch, QB

» Rocky Boiman, LB

» Joey Galloway, WR

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