SUNDAY: $2.5MM of Avril’s $16MM signing bonus comes in the form of a signing bonus, reports Joel Corry of CBS Sports, who also passes along the cap figure breakdown of Avril’s new deal. The defensive end’s cap number will be $8MM in 2015, $6.5MM in ’16, $5.5MM in ’17, and $8MM in ’18. Additionally, Avril’s base salary injury guarantees become fully guaranteed five days after the waiver period in each year (Twitter links: 1, 2, 3).
FRIDAY: A day after locking up one of their key defensive players with a new four-year deal, the Seahawks have signed another to a contract extension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has reached a long-term agreement with defensive end Cliff Avril. Avril’s new four-year contract will be worth $28.5MM, with $16MM guaranteed, a source tells Rapoport.
Avril, 28, has recorded just 4.5 sacks this season, which would be a career low if he doesn’t add to it in Seattle’s final two regular season games. As such, the $7MM+ annual commitment from the club may initially look a little high. However, Avril averaged over nine sacks per season in his previous four years, with Seattle and Detroit, and has still wreaked havoc in opposing backfields this year even if his sack totals aren’t there.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Avril has been the league’s 13th-best 4-3 defensive end this year, out of 58 qualified players. PFF gives Avril credit for 38 quarterback hurries, and another nine quarterback hits, so he’s creating plenty of pressure as a pass rusher. Seattle has rewarded the former third-round pick for his play by giving him a slight raise, and a little more security — Avril’s previous contract was for two years and $13MM.
Avril’s new four-year deal looks awfully similar to a couple others recently signed by Seahawks defenders. Fellow pass rusher Michael Bennett inked a four-year, $28.5MM pact before reaching the open market back in March, and he has been even better than Avril this year — Bennett’s sack total (six) is also modest, but he ranks as the NFL’s third-best 4-3 defensive end, according to PFF’s grades.
Linebacker K.J. Wright also received a new four-year extension from Seattle, and his deal, announced yesterday, is worth a little less than the ones signed by the defensive ends. Full details of Wright’s contract haven’t been reported yet, but the overall value is believed to be $27MM.
Moving Percy Harvin in a trade with the Jets earlier in the season freed up some future cap space and flexibility for the Seahawks, and the team has taken full advantage, locking up two of its best defensive players to multiyear deals. With Wright, Bennett, and Avril now under contract beyond 2014, Seattle has ensured that nearly all its impact defensive players will be in the fold for several years — Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman also signed extensions this year, while Kam Chancellor agreed to his in 2013.
With those defenders now under team control for several years, the Seahawks will likely shift their focus to the offensive side of the ball, where Russell Wilson will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2015. In addition to addressing Wilson’s deal, the team will have to figure out what’ll happen with running back Marshawn Lynch, who is also entering the final year of his contract.
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