Cliff Avril signs 4-year extension with Seahawks

December 19th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Seattle had two significant defensive free agents ready to hit the market in 2015. In the space of 24-hours, both were re-signed to long-term extensions.

Just a day after K.J. Wright committed his future to the Seahawks, Cliff Avril followed suit.

According to Ian Rapoport it’s a four-year deal worth $28m ($16m guaranteed). He’ll get around $7m per year. As Seahawks fans discussed how a possible $34m in cap space next year could keep the team together, John Schneider didn’t waste any time making sure that is the case.

It hasn’t been a great year statistically for Avril. He has 4.5 sacks. If he doesn’t get any more in the last two games it’ll be the worst total in his career. But here’s the thing — Seattle would need to replace him if he left. And that could be more costly than the $28m they just spent. DeMarcus Ware’s cap hit in Denver is nearly $10m this year. It simply wasn’t worth letting Avril join another team on a fair deal, just to overspend to keep him.

Avril was possibly the true Super Bowl MVP last season — harassing Peyton Manning constantly. His bull rush forced Colin Kaepernick into ‘the pick’. His pressure in the playoffs drove Seattle to the title game. He is a key player.

It’s likely they’ll try and add another pass rusher at some stage, possibly via the draft. It’s a deep class of pass rushers. They’ll have some options.

But the last thing they wanted was to go into 2015 with Michael Bennett as their only proven quality defensive end. Losing Avril was a total non-starter. And now they’ll keep him without any drama.

We said it yesterday and it’s still true today. The Seahawks don’t need to splurge in free agency. They were 13-3 last year and 10-4 so far this term. Seattle isn’t used to this kind of success. Keeping this group together and drafting well is the key. Not losing players like Golden Tate chasing a Percy Harvin.

It’ll be interesting to see if any other moves are close. Byron Maxwell for example?

74 Responses to “Cliff Avril signs 4-year extension with Seahawks”

  1. JeffC says:

    So we can look forward to a top 5 defense for the next 4 years.

  2. 300ZXNA says:

    WOOHOO!!

    Pretty hard to have any other reaction after the past two days. Now for RW and Wagner…

  3. Cameron says:

    Avril’s impact has always been greater than his counting stats. I believe he and Bennett are both top 10 in QB hurries. The Super Bowl showed all of us what forcing a QB to move off ‘his spot’ can mean to a defense.

    This is a smart move. The contract is richer and longer than I was imagining, but Avril has been both durable and productive.

    We don’t need to go outside FA for this defense. It is elite.

    • 300ZXNA says:

      The lower level of interior line play earlier this year I think was affecting Avril’s production, stats wise. Wise to re-up him right now, as I doubt he would have been this cheap after his monster year in 2013 (yes, I know that it isn’t a cheap contract, just when compared to guys like Ware, et al).

      With the emergence of Hill, and the promise that Cassius Marsh possesses, if the Hawks are able to add another DT to the rotation, the DL might be right back to 2013 levels w/ Avril benefiting the most. Being able to rest the DL and limit snaps like was done last year seems a pretty stark advantage. Point being that I think this contract will look like a bargain at this time next year.

    • Belgaron says:

      contracts always have flashy overall numbers, we don’t yet know how they hit the cap year to year. A lot of times they are written with the final year unlikely to actually happen, making them very team friendly. Need to wait and see the details.

  4. OZ says:

    WOW!!!! Fantastic! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  5. Cysco says:

    Gotta admit this one’s a bit of a surprise for me. Given the number of free agents seattle needs to lock up, I expected Avril to be an odd man out. Can’t say I’m disappointed though, he’s been a solid and consistent producer his entire time here. Keeping the band together sure appears to be the goal of the front office.

  6. Johnny says:

    Hell of a Christmas bonus JS, hell of a Christmas bonus.

    While I would love to extend both Maxie and Wagner, I think Wagner takes priority. As good as Maxie is, the amount of money that he will be asking for is not worth his services as Lane can play the slot CB position while Simon plays outside. If we do somehow find a way, however, John Schneider is undeniably the Wizard of Oz. As if he wasn’t already.

    Cheers

  7. Ed says:

    Surprise surprise.

    We know Wagner and Wilson are getting extensions. Pretty sure Irvin too.

    I want Max to get an extension. Somewhat unheard if it happens, our entire back 7 would get extensions.

    Our draft will basically be line and maybe a WR/TE.

  8. Alaska Norm says:

    Keeping the band together. Now for Waggner and RW. I can’t see Seattle making a big splash in FA this year. Even more important to have a solid draft.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Keep the group intact and draft well. It needs to be the way. They have more than enough picks to fill their vacant needs in the draft. They don’t need free agency unless an incredible opportunity emerges.

      • Alaska Norm says:

        Agreed. I’m hoping they find those mid round gems we have grown accustomed to. Perfect way to build a dynasty. Keep your producers, find inexpensive talent in the draft, make a few shrewd trades when the opportunity arises. Except for Harvin this has been the MO. Even the harvin trade can be looked at as a positive move. He helped win a SB and we should end up with a 4th and the money saved to sign our own FA,s. Genius.

        • Arias says:

          That’s the most generous spin I’ve ever heard on the Harvin trade. I wish I had the temperament to easily dismiss the lost draft picks, the 14.5 mil blown wad of vital cap space, the loss of Tate, and the totally non integral contributions to the super bowl season of a guy that rarely made it on the field. I’d probably be a lot more content if I could be.

          • Alaska Norm says:

            I waited a long long time for a Super Bowl win. The Harvin trade pales in comparison to some of the historical bad moves that past regimes have made. It’s easy to forget to enjoy what we have with this team and its management from the owner down its been top notch.

            • Phil says:

              Totally agree. Now it’s time to think about building a dynasty that will be around for a long time! I hope PC and JS live to be 100 and stay under contract the whole time!

  9. Belgaron says:

    These guys are all friends with their former teammates who are now in Jacksonville or elsewhere, and they’d get a feel for what its like to go to elsewhere for a big payday. The Seattle Seahawk organization is starting to see a return from all its investments over the years (stadium, practice facility, the coach everyone wants to play for, talented teammates, and now post season success). Not to mention players’ families like stability; they don’t like to move if they can avoid it.

    If they keep developing emerging star players in droves there will be a few who have to go because the money is significantly more (Tate) or unavailable here (Giacomini), but it should not be surprising that guys prefer to stay with the ‘Hawks.

    • Miles says:

      A note on Giacomini is that I think his family lives in New York so that was a big big reason he went there. And I think he grew up a Jets fan. So it might have been just a dream come true for him because the money wasn’t that exorbitant. I’m happy for him, even though it’s be great to still have him even more than Tate, in my opinion.

      • Belgaron says:

        Yeah, it was a nice opportunity for him with his background. I don’t think Seattle made him a competitive offer to stay but I may be wrong.

        • Miles says:

          I think given Seattle invested a second rounder on Britt, it’s be foolish if they didn’t put in an offer similar to the Jets’ offer for Giac. The second round pick showed the Seahawks view the right tackle position as one that is hard to fill with plug-and-play journeymen or late-round fliers.

  10. juliyp says:

    I would take Ware for 10mln over Avril with 7mln any day any time.

    • Rob Staton says:

      That isn’t an option.

      The point I made with the comparison is — that is the free agent market for DE’s. So if you let Avril walk you might have to pay a different player $10m to replace him. And that player might not be as good as DeMarcus Ware or Cliff Avril.

  11. KingRajesh says:

    This has to be the end of Maxwell, he’s gotta know that somebody is going to offer him 10M+ to be their #1 guy. No way we can afford to pay for the 4th member of the Legion, plus DB U under Pete Carroll has been churning out a bunch of guys so we don’t have to – Simon, Lane, and Burley are all playing much better than even earlier in the season.

    I’d rather the Seahawks prioritize some of Paul Allen’s $$$ to go to some offensive line guys, or a vet WR/TE rather than the replaceable member of the Legion of Boom.

    • Matt says:

      I’m thinking the same thing. The other 3 LOB starters are locked up and Simon is looking like he’s the next Maxwell. With Wilson and Wagner set up to make elite $ at their positions we won’t have the cap space to keep Maxwell. The Hawks will get a 3-4th round comp pick if he signs elsewhere. We will get a steady diet of comp picks in the coming years by letting some key players walk. Can’t keep everybody, so JS/PC draft players 1-3 years in preparation to losing players.
      Love the resigning of both Wright and Avril! Keep the band together the best we can and fill in with cheap high upside talent. Go Hawks!

    • Rob Staton says:

      If someone offers him that kind of money he will be gone for sure. It’s hard to judge though. Is a team going to go all-in on Maxwell? He’s not played that many games. Some might feel he benefits playing with the rest of the LOB.

      For me he’s more valuable to Seattle than anyone else. He fits what we want like a glove. There’s a lot of value in keeping this defense together for the long haul and using the draft to fill other holes.

      • Ralphy says:

        I would be shocked if Maxwell got that kind of offer.

        • Belgaron says:

          Yeah, teams are wary of that kind of risk but Jacksonville or Cleveland could go a little nuts this off season. The have cap space to blow.

          • Ben2 says:

            10 mil for Maxwell? He’s not going to get an offer like that….How much did Sherm get? 11 mil per year? Maxie isn’t that close to Sherm, Revis, etc. Maybe 5-6 mil per year? Predicting some of these contract sizes is going to get difficult as the cap rises…the contracts should be getting bigger. I’m wondering if JS figures the contract offers this offseason WILL be bigger and is trying to preempt this by locking up his guys now. These deals could be deals in a few months time!

            • Matt says:

              $10 mil might be a reach, but $8 mil is very realistic. The Jags and Raiders are set to have $61.5 mil and $54.3 mil in cap space going into the off season. Bradley will be begging to get Maxwell in Jacksonville no doubt. Oakland has to overpay to get decent players to play for them. Both these teams will offer considerably more $ than us, so it will come down to whether Maxwell wants the money or wants more rings. Would love to see him stay, but think he’ll take the money and run, hope I’m wrong.

  12. HOUSE says:

    I didn’t expect this one, ESPECIALLY so soon. I originally thought Avril and Maxwell to be the guys that potentially got left out in the cold. Keeping Bennett and Avril on the ends is BRILLIANT.

    GO HAWKS and hail to our FO!!!

  13. AlaskaHawk says:

    I was suprised by the news. Two players signed to long term contracts in two days. Signing Wagner is key, the defense suffered without him.

    Did anyone see Chris Clemons finish the game last night? He rushed our old QB prospect Whitehurst and chased him into pocket where a defensive tackle wrapped him up for a sack. Nice play Clemons. Just another example of DE making a play without getting the sack. It’s the same with Avril. He disrupts the defense on pass plays. He is also good at holding his position against running plays.

    Go Seahawks!!!

    • Miles says:

      Clemons was awesome on that play. Was definitely rooting for the Jags in that game. Glad he’s still gettin after the QB.

      Could not have imagined we’d get both Wright and Avril locked up before 2015. Crazy good news for Seahawks future! Wagner and Wilson are the only crucial ones left for me. Would be nice to extend Irvin on a team friendly deal.

    • Arias says:

      After reading the Jayson Jenks feature article in ST a few weeks ago on how tight Avril and Bennett became helping each other with their game after nearly coming to blows over playing time in front in front of the cameras in the Atlanta game last year there could have been little doubt that this would get done. The symbiosis that exists between the two is rare and the coaching staff recognizes it. They totally feed of each other and push each other to excel and rep the leadership of the line. It would have been a shame to deprive Bennett of Avril and probably would have taken his game down a notch.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Clemons is a beast.

  14. Steve Nelsen says:

    I posted about Avril and Maxwell in the Wright thread. The Hawks went and took care of Avril even sooner than I expected. So, here are my thoughts (again) about Maxwell.

    I like Maxwell a lot. If you look at the stats of opposing QBs against Maxwell, Sherman and Simon since Maxwell moved to the nickel spot, it is ridiculous. If there is a way to keep that, it might be the difference in winning a future Super Bowl in the new NFL passing league.

    Their are some frequently mentioned arguments against keeping Maxwell: we won’t be able to match other offers; Simon is a cheap replacement; and, it locks up too much money in our DBs. All are true to a point.

    I don’t know how much Maxwell will get offered. He didn’t have the Pro Bowl season that many (including me) projected. The market for nickel CBs is much lower than for outside guys so another team would have to feel comfortable projecting him to a Pro-Bowl level at outside corner to offer him a top dollar deal.. If Simon develops into a Pro-Bowler, then he might be too expensive to keep so having Maxwell would be insurance and leverage. The front office has never said that their philosophy is to spread money evenly amongst position groups. Their expressed goals have been to have the top defense and the top running game in the NFL. If they believe that Maxwell has earned a second contract, then I think they make every effort to keep him.

    • Arias says:

      I think you’re halfway confusing what position Maxwell plays Steve. He plays on the outside on two wide receiver sets and only slides into the slot when the opposing side brings three wideouts. The snap counts bears this out as Maxwell played every defensive snap (58) last game while Simon played on only 22.

      • Steve Nelsen says:

        Good point. Thanks, Arias. I will tighten it up.

        • Arias says:

          But you’re right looking closer at the numbers I agree with you. It’s no wonder they’ve been taking their time bringing Lane back as Maxwell’s slot performance is considerably better. He’s given up 10 of 19 targets for a qb rating thrown at of 67.0 as opposed to Lane allowing 10 completions on 12 targets from the slot for a 85.3 rating. Burley has been relatively terrible in the slot, giving up 31 receptions on 42 targets for a 92 qb rating.

          Maxwell’s total numbers of 31 rec on 51 targets at a 81.7 rating reveal that he is an upgrade in the slot over  his outside work.But I think it’s his versatility that would be a big draw in free agency. A team could feel they could move him all over the place and not lose much like how Denver uses Chris Harris Jr in their 7 man zone, so IMHO teams would probably feel comfortable playing him wherever.  I don’t think he’d be pigeonholed or come at a discount if the team were ever to let him test the FA waters.

          • Steve Nelsen says:

            I think the Chris Harris comparison is a good one. I don’t think Harris was looking at $10M/year. I believe he got around $6.5M. Am I remembering that right? Maxwell at $7M/year sounds good,

            But leaving the numbers out of it for the moment. If there was enough to extend Maxwell, Wagner and Irvin, would you? I would. Keep the defense together. Use the draft to get some more guys for the D-line rotation and the offense.

  15. Forrest says:

    Hopefully Wagner and Wilson are next, others are also important, but those two are key/irreplaceable pieces. As for the draft: DL, RB (even if Lynch stays), WR/TE…interior DL needs a little work (not that bad, but still needs work), even if Lynch stays drafting a RB in rounds 1-3 would probably be wise, and of course a big target is essential for the future (Wilson needs to develop).

  16. Volume 12 says:

    Could not be happier about the KJ and Avail signings! It’s funny that some thought Avril wasn’t getting a deal and the next day he gets the EXACT same deal as Bennett. Now it’s Maxi is the odd man out. I’m not so sure. I love Simon and think he’s our next Browner, the guy who mugs and tosses everyone around, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a deal coming for Maxi. As others have said on here ‘Reward you own.’ Sends a great message to the other guys. Keep as much of this D together and they have the chance to one of the best ever, if they aren’t already. As a side note,what a motivational tactic for the biggest game of the season as well.

    It seems some people on here are almost bummed or down that this FO knows what they’re doing and not going out and signing stupid FA’s. Save that stuff for the video games guys. Would you rather spend big money on guys who may not fit the system, be comfortable rotating, or inside the locker room? Or keep guys who you know what you have in them and do fit in the system, style of play, and locker room? As PC has said multiple times, he wants guys who are ‘comfortable’ around one another.

    As Rob said, this is the best LB group in the NFL. How could it not be? Look around the league, there’s no other team who’s LB’s are as physical, fast, and intimidating, KPL to me is more of that Malcolm Smith, 6th man type guy.

    As for Avril, he may be one of the most effective DE’s without getting sacks in bunches I’ve ever seen. Good coaches know it’s not all about numbers all the time. Pressures, hurries, moving guys off their spot works just as well. Now for the foreseeable future we have Bennett and Avail rushing together, and as Arias said, their a two-headed monster. With Marsh coming back and the phenomenal depth at DE in this years’s draft, DAMN it’s scary to think what this team’s edge rushing will look like next year.

  17. CC says:

    Okay now that means KJ gets a sack on Sunday night and now Cliff gets a couple as well! Let’s have a celebration at the AZ QB!! I love these signings!

    Let’s get the win – GO HAWKS!

  18. Volume 12 says:

    Hey Rob, sorry to go off topic here, but since were on the discussion of DE’s, have you ever had the chance to take a look at Norfolk St DE Lynden Trail? I think it was JimQ who pointed him out first, but now I’m intrigued. This kid is Freaky! His length and pursuit speed are ridiculous. I think he may be a combine star, anyway you should check him if you get a chance.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I watched the one game on Draft Breakdown. Can’t say I was overly impressed. Nice length but at that level I want to see total dominance. On the tape he was just ‘meh’. No doubt he could look good at the combine but Seattle loves production + character + athleticism. Bruce Irvin was a SPARQ god but he was also the best pass rusher in college football during the 2010 season and he followed it up with a solid 2011. That’s a good example of what they like — players with an edge, that can produce on tape and have the rare athleticism.

  19. Roland Jose says:

    Yo JS!,
    I have been a fan since the 80’s where is my extention!?

  20. Roland Jose says:

    we need another DE and Dtackle in the draft, keep the depth going so the next man up theory holds true!

  21. Darnell says:

    Avril is great at rushing the right tackle, Jabaal Sheard may fly under the radar in free agency and I’m wondering if he projects as a 1st-2nd down DE that can go at LTs and fit in the Hawks defense.

    Love Maxwell, but I’m resigned to him being gone. Not that he would want to leave, but I think if he hits the market he’ll be too expensive to keep as teams will rightfully see him as a CB1, and good for him. Throw in the likelihood of Dan Quinn being a HC somewhere, Seto and Richard possibly being defensive coordinators and that Maxwell is better than Browner/Thurmond with no failed drug tests to his name, he’ll be a tough keep.

    I think going forward that 4th LOB member is going to be a string of dudes on their rookie deals. Simon is next in line and I’m confident as heck in him.

  22. Nathan says:

    I guess this increases the chance of a running back being taken early, and surely Lynch is gone now.

  23. Radman says:

    Lukewarm on the KJ signing. This deal with Avril I’m a fan of. DEs like him are hard to find, and expensive.

    Good signing.

    • Ben2 says:

      Yep. Agree. Pass rushers play a premium position in a pass happy NFL – so you pay em.’ Linebackers not so much (unless they’re at an ELITE level, like BWags). I like the philosophy of keeping your own though…just seems a bit too much $$ for KJ. I want to see Irvin and BWags locked up.

  24. rowdy says:

    So much defense, good thing Pete knows what to do with it. It’s looking more and more like they will have an offensive heavy draft. I thinking 1 rb, 2-3 o linemen, 2 te, 2 wr in the next two years. That’s starters or heavy rotation guys. D-line as well will be a priority. Great to see the defenses stick together but the offense might stay stagnant as a resolute.

  25. James says:

    Lose Avril, and absent signing a top-tier free agent Leo, and the Seahawks would certainly have had to spend the R1 pick on a DE. That position is too important, and too hard to find in the later rounds, to take a chance. Now we can be more flexible with a SE, DT or RB (Gurley could fall to us, guys!) in R1.

    • Rob Staton says:

      It’s a great point. Lose Avril and they either need to spend even more money (probably) on a replacement or go big in the draft. Now they have the flexibility to consider several needs. At the moment it looks like they’ll end up leaning towards the offense.

      • Nathan says:

        Could winning another SB mean we pull the trigger on Lynch?

        Give the money to Wilson, so we don’t have to backload his contract with a massive cap hit in 4 years?

        • Rob Staton says:

          Possibly. Certain media reports seemed to suggest the decision was already made on Lynch anyway. That would free up $7m and probably make RB a top target early in a strong draft class at the position.

  26. Stuart says:

    LOVE IT! Keep the band together!

    DE Jared Allen spurned us in the off season. How has his season been?

    DT Henry Melton was another one that I hoped would have been a Hawk last off season. From a distance, it looks like he has had a very nice season in Dallas.

    It appears the days of signing players from outside the organization will become greatly reduced with the main emphasis on drafting well and retaining our key players. The Percy Harvin fiasco has taught JS/PC a critical lesson when you deviate from that plan.

    How many organizations could withstand such a blunder of draft capital, cash and team chemistry only to come out the other side better for the experience, and be competing for the Super Bowl?

    Hawk Heaven Baby!!!

    • Arias says:

      Yeah I do feel kind of bad for Allen in spite of his spurning. I got the sense that he really wanted to play for Seattle but his wife was adamantly against it. Reportedly she didn’t like the city when he dragged her out for a visit but reading between the lines it seemed to be about the numbers for her. Because it really didn’t seem like Chicago was his first choice if it were solely up to him and he had to immerse himself in some pretty severe delusion when when he made statements shortly after he signed about believing he was joining a championship caliber team.

      I’m sure Pete pulled out all the stops on his visit to make him feel as welcome and intrigued as possible short of being able to meet his numbers else he wouldn’t have bothered to drag his wife out for a second visit. I think his heart was really in Seattle.