Cliff Avril to sign with Seattle Seahawks
Wes Welker jumping from the Patriots to the Broncos stands in a singular class as the surprise of NFL free agency’s second day. But Cliff Avril’s sudden and unexpected deal with the Seattle Seahawks definitely laid claim to the No. 2 spot.
The buzz surrounding Avril — Peter King’s top-ranked free agent for 2013 — had fallen almost completely silent in the 24 hours or so after free agency began. That all changed in a heartbeat as reports rolled in that Avril was en route to Seattle to sign a contract.
Avril’s deal reportedly will net him $15 million over two years. That is significantly less than the three-year, $30 million contract he reportedly turned down from Detroit last year.
The money involved here will be of great interest around the league, as Avril may set the standard for the rest of the defensive end class. There are a ton of other viable options still available at this position.
Avril was franchise tagged by the Lions for the 2012 season after an 11.0-sack 2011. He delivered another 9.5 sacks last year.
Avril could help at the “Leo” in Seattle’s defense — a stand-up rush role in what’s essentially a hybrid 4-3/3-4 approach. The Seahawks have Chris Clemons to play that role, but he’s coming back off a torn ACL and may not be ready for the start of 2013.
Seattle also has Bruce Irvin to fill that role, and he delivered 8.0 sacks in his rookie season. Irvin and Avril could see lots of time together early in pass-rushing situations, with one replacing run-stopper Red Bryant up front.
Avril’s skill set translated well to Detroit’s wide-nine approach up front, as he was able to focus most of his attention on getting to the quarterback. If Seattle can put him in similar positions, this could be another boost for a team on the rise.
Grade: B-plus. The Seahawks did not overpay on this deal and Avril will get another crack at free agency after 2014. His pass-rush potential fits well with what Seattle does. Plus, with Clemons working his way back, the Seahawks now have another player to pair with Irvin.