Cliff Avril underwent disc surgery this week, and Pete Carroll confirmed (via Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times) the procedure went well. Avril will be out for the season, and previous reports indicated the longtime Seahawks defensive end’s career is in jeopardy. Avril, who said in October he wasn’t thinking retirement, sent out a tweet about his upcoming recovery process. Next season will be Avril’s age-32 slate. Michael Bennett said, via Loh, he talks to Avril daily and called his friend’s future “uncertain” as he prepares for a long recovery.
“I think you want to be able to walk away from the game the way you want to walk away from the game. To suffer an injury of any magnitude, especially one where you could easily have been paralyzed, is something you have to be able to try to move forward past, and it’s a hard thing to do,” Bennett said. “It’s always devastating to lose a guy and not know his future.”
Here’s the latest from the NFC West.
- Chip Kelly agreeing to become UCLA’s head coach helped save the 49ers money. The five-year, $23.3MM contract Kelly signed with UCLA will help offset what the 49ers owe him, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. The 49ers will save $7.5MM because of Kelly’s Bruins agreement, per Maiocco, adding the team would have owed its one-season coach approximately $14MM between 2018 and ’19. Now, UCLA will pay $7.5MM of that amount. “Chip did us a solid,” a 49ers source said, via Maiocco. Kelly signed a four-year, $24MM contract to become San Francisco’s head coach last year but was fired after a 2-14 campaign.
- The Seahawks have yet to place Kam Chancellor on IR alongside Avril, and Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes this might be because of the franchise’s cap situation. Seattle’s up against the salary ceiling presently at $84K, per OverTheCap, and by placing Chancellor on IR and replacing him with another player could create a tricky situation. Chancellor’s salary is guaranteed whether he’s on IR or the active roster. Henderson writes the Seahawks might not make this move until they need a roster spot. Given that five games remain in the regular season, that date appears likely to arrive soon.
- Bruce Arians said earlier this week he could envision Blaine Gabbert being the Cardinals‘ 2018 starting quarterback if he keeps playing the way he’s fared since taking over. Arians doubled down on that claim later this week by saying (via Sirius XM radio, on Twitter) Gabbert is not a game manager and fits the Cardinals’ system “really well.” Arians added the veteran passer can “spin it” as well as anyone he’s coached. For reference, Arians has coached Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. However, the straight-shooting coach is not known for doling out unwarranted praise. Palmer is under contract through 2018 but hasn’t made a decision about a return. Gabbert is a 2018 UFA.
- Chandler Jones is having an All-Pro-caliber season, and the recently extended outside linebacker credits some of his improved production to being around 15 pounds lighter than last season, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com notes. Urban notes Jones reported to Cardinals camp overweight last year and played between 270 and 275 pounds. He’s just under 260 now. The recently extended pass rusher has 12 sacks — one more than he recorded all of last season. That’s tied with 2016 teammate Calais Campbell for best in the league and 4.5 sacks off Simeon Rice‘s 18-year-old team record.