Cliff Avril

Cliff Avril Has Interest From A “Few” Teams

Cliff Avril has signed on to become a radio host on Sports Radio KJR beginning in July, but that doesn’t mean the veteran defensive end has officially retired after being released by the Seahawks last week. While admitting that he’ll have to wait for medical clearance after suffering a potentially-career ending neck injury in 2017, Avril told SiriusXM NFL Radio that “a few” clubs have expressed interest in his availability.

Last season, Avril played only 151 defensive snaps before going down, and garnered a disappointing 44.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. That was the lowest mark of Avril’s career, and he’d been an exceptional player as recently as 2015. It’s unclear, however, whether any team would be willing to risk putting Avril on the field given his recent injury history. As recently as January, Avril reaffirmed his desire to continue his career despite his health risks, but he told SiriusXM that he’s willing to walk away from the game if need be.

“I’m definitely ready (to move on if the doctor recommends as much),” said Avril. “I’ve had about eight months now to kind of wrap my brain around it. My wife and I, we’ve been talking about it. We talk about it pretty much every other week, just understanding, ‘Hey, if you’re not going to play anymore, what’s next? Start preparing yourself for that.’ And that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m OK if I’m not able to play ball. If the doctor tells me, ‘Hey, you should definitely reconsider not playing,’ I’m OK with that at this point of my career.”

If the 32-year-old Avril is medically cleared, it’s not out of the question that he could generate real interest on the open market given the dearth of available pass rushers. Other free agent edge defenders include Robert Ayers, Junior Galette, Erik Walden, Elvis Dumervil, Willie Young, and Connor Barwin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Panthers, Fleener, Avril, Falcons, Witten

Earlier this week, we learned that Curtis Fuller had resigned from his gig as the Panthers defensive backs coach. While no explanation was provided at the time, ESPN’s David Newton reports that the decision stemmed from the NFL’s investigation into owner Jerry Richardson.

Ultimately, the team had received “complaints of workplace misconduct” by Fuller, with women describing his conduct as “inappropriate.”

“After approaching Coach Fuller with the findings of an investigation into complaints of inappropriate conduct, we accepted his resignation,” said team spokesperson Steven Drummond. “The Panthers are deeply committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally.”

Fuller had been with the organization since 2013. Following Steve Wilks promotion to defensive coordinator, Fuller was named the defensive backs coach prior to last season.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • The Saints released tight end Coby Fleener earlier today, and ESPN’s Field Yates tweets that the team designated the transaction as a post-June 1st release. That means New Orleans will clear $3MM in cap space on June 2nd. The veteran’s $3.4MM base salary became guaranteed in February, and the team could have saved $3.2MM against the cap by releasing him prior to that date.
  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff says he’s still hoping to add defensive line depth in free agency (Twitter link via 92.9 The Game). That would help to explain Atlanta’s recent interest in former Redskins and Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After losing defensive tackle Dontari Poe to the Panthers and Adrian Clayborn to the Patriots earlier this offseason, the Falcons are looking to restock the front four.
  • Cliff Avril has not officially retired, but it sounds like he is prepared to move on from football. The former Seahawks defensive end will join Sports Radio 950 KJR as a midday co-host beginning in July, the station announced. The press release makes it sound as though Avril’s playing days are through. “Cliff had an amazing career and we are lucky to be part of his next chapter,” iHeartMedia Seattle exec Rich Moore said. However, Avril’s open letter to Seahawks fans last week indicated that he would make his decision after speaking further with medical experts. The Seahawks released the 10-year veteran last week amidst concerns about his neck.
  • Long-time Cowboys star Jason Witten announced his retirement earlier today, and his former quarterback penned the tight end a farewell letter. “Sometimes in life you are lucky to come across someone that will change your life,” Tony Romo wrote on Twitter. “Most of the time you don’t realize it at the moment the profound impact and impression someone will have on you. The difference with Jason Witten is that I knew right away the impact he would have on me. Not only was Jason the most talented, humble and hardest working individual on our football team, but he was one of the most genuine, good-hearted people you could ever meet.” Romo also referred to Witten as the “best” player he ever played with.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Austin, Vikings, Spence

The Seahawks released defensive end Cliff Avril with a failed physical designation yesterday, but it doesn’t sound like the decision was an easy one. Speaking with reporters following the first day of rookie minicamp, coach Pete Carroll reflected on the veteran’s impact on the organization.

“He’s been a great leader. He’s been a bit of a statesman for us. He always says the right thing, stands for the right stuff and been a really high character guy that you can always count on,” said Carroll (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson). “A great competitor in the program. I love him and would like to keep him connected with our club as long as we can because he’s just exactly what you hope to represent you. He’s had a great career with us.”

Avril, 32, said he wants to continue his NFL career.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Speaking of injured Seahawks, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets that safety Kam Chancellor has more neck scans scheduled in June. The veteran landed on the injured reserve last season due to an unspecified neck injury, and reports indicated that the 30-year-old may be forced to retire.
  • The Rams bailed on wideout Tavon Austin, sending him to the Cowboys for a sixth-rounder. While the receiver never lived up to his four-year, $42MM contract, his former organization doesn’t believe his tenure was a failure. “[The deal] was never necessarily to be, hey, a No. 1 receiver,” said general manager Les Snead (via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez). “But he was a weapon for us on special teams and in the offense. He led our team in touchdowns, and he had a lot of special-teams touchdowns called back. He was just a unique weapon on offense.”
  • The Vikings re-signed veteran cornerback Terence Newman last week, and Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune has details on the new deal (via Twitter). The 39-year-old will earn a $1.015MM base salary and a $90K workout bonus. However, there’s no guaranteed money, and the contract accounts for a $720K cap hit.
  • The undisclosed 2019 pick that the Lions acquired from the Dolphins in the Akeem Spence trade is a conditional seventh-rounder, tweets ESPN’s Field Yates. Miami originally acquired the selection in the deal that sent Jarvis Landry to the Browns.

Seahawks Release Cliff Avril

The Seahawks announced they have released defensive end Cliff Avril with a failed physical designation. Avril lost half of the 2017 season to a neck injury which reportedly could keep him from returning to the field.

In January, Avril said that he would push to continue playing.

“I believe so,” Avril said when asked if he will return to the NFL“Right now it’s all about recovery. I had surgery. I’m in the process of recovering. It’s a long process, a long journey. When I get to the end of that, then I’ll figure out what’s next.

“I mean, it’s something I love to do. It’s what I’ve been doing forever and, just as a competitor, I want to show that I can come back if it’s possible, you know? You do see all the injuries. You see the game from a different perspective when you’re on the sideline. And those thoughts do definitely pop into my head of ‘should I come back or not?’ But again, right now it’s all about recovery.”

Avril, a 10-year veteran, was slated to carry a cap charge of nearly $8MM in 2018. By releasing him, the Seahawks will be left with just $500K in dead money.

In 2017, Avril played only 151 defensive snaps before going down and garnered a disappointing 44.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. That was the lowest mark of Avril’s career, and he’d been an exceptional player as recently as 2015. In his nine seasons leading up to ’17, Avril totaled 73 sacks, including 20.5 between 2015 and 2016.

Right now, it’s unclear as to whether another team would risk putting Avril on the field given his recent injury history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks’ Cliff Avril Wants To Keep Playing

Although Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll recently said Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is “going to have a hard time playing football again” after suffering a serious neck injury that caused numbness in his arms, Avril hopes to continue his career, as he explained to Steve Wyche of NFL.com.Cliff Avril

“I believe so,” Avril said when asked if he will return to the NFL. “Right now it’s all about recovery. I had surgery. I’m in the process of recovering. It’s a long process, a long journey. When I get to the end of that, then I’ll figure out what’s next.

“I mean, it’s something I love to do. It’s what I’ve been doing forever and, just as a competitor, I want to show that I can come back if it’s possible, you know?” Avril said. “You do see all the injuries. You see the game from a different perspective when you’re on the sideline. And those thoughts do definitely pop into my head of ‘should I come back or not?’ But again, right now it’s all about recovery.”

The 31-year-old Avril has previously indicated that he’d prefer to continue playing in the NFL despite repeated comments from Carroll that both Avril and Seattle safety Kam Chancellor — also dealing with a neck injury — may be forced into retirement. Avril, a 10-year veteran, is under contract for the 2018 campaign with a cap charge of $8MM.

In 2017, Avril played only 151 defensive snaps before going down, and garnered a disappointing 44.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. That was the lowest mark of Avril’s career, and he’d been an exceptional player as recently as 2015. It’s unclear, however, whether the Seahawks — or any other club — would be willing to risk putting Avril on the field given his recent injury history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks’ Chancellor, Avril May Retire

Seahawks veterans Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril might not be able to take the field in 2018. Their respective health issues could force both of them to retire, head coach Pete Carroll says, though Carroll indicated that the choice will be up to each player. Kam Chancellor (vertical)

Cliff and Kam are going to have a hard time playing football again,” Carroll said (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times).

Chancellor, a Pro Bowl safety, missed nearly half of the season’s games with a neck injury. Avril, a defensive end, appeared in only four contests thanks to a serious back issue.

Chancellor has been a fixture of the Seahawks’ defense, but it may be time for him to depart from the Legion of Boom. If this is the end, Chancellor can reflect on a tremendous career which includes four Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring following the 2013 season. Avril earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2016 and was also a part of the ’13 championship.

Chancellor is set to earn a guaranteed $6.8MM if he remains on the roster by February 10, so the Seahawks will be keeping a watchful eye on his condition. There’s next to no chance of Avril returning on his current deal, however. The Seahawks can save $7.5MM if he retires or if he is released. If he deems himself fit to play, Avril could theoretically return on a cheaper contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Woods, Peters

The Seahawks have dealt with multiple injuries on the defensive side this season. Marquee performers like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril have all been ruled out for the year and in the case of Avril and Chancellor, their overall football careers could really be in jeopardy.

Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times writes in a column, with the help of former NFL agent Joel Corry, how he expects the team will handle a few of these injury situations from a cap point of view in 2018. The most complicated of the group seems to be Chancellor, who’s contract runs through the 2020 season. By simply retiring, the strong safety would alleviate a lot of Seattle’s cap problems, but he’s unlikely to do that given all the money that’s left for him to make. Condotta notes that if the safety was inactive to start the season, he would still make a guaranteed $6.8MM if he remains on the roster by February 10, 2018. With this in mind, it seems likely that the front office would opt to wait things out to see how the soon-to-be 30-year-old responds next year given the salary cap situation. However, unlike Chancellor, Avril is likely not to be back with the Seahawks on his current deal given that the team can save $7.5MM if he were released or retires. Seattle could look to bring him back on a lesser, more incentive-rich contract if he were to be released.

The piece adds some more in-depth cap information as well, and is really a good deep dive into how the Seahawks will handle some of their trickier contract situations given that they are right up against the cap at the moment.

  • On more positive Seahawks injury news, head coach Pete Carroll spoke positively about the chances starting defensive backs Earl Thomas and Shaquill Griffin would be able to play Sunday, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com“He’s fine,” Carroll said of Thomas. “He had something we just tended to yesterday, a sore foot, and that was it. Not a big deal.” The star safety was listed as questionable on Thursday, but looks to be on track to suit up this weekend. Griffin missed last week’s game against the 49ers with a concussion, but he will be back too, according to Henderson.
  • Breakout Rams wide receiver Robert Woods was sidelined for the team’s win over the Saints last week and will most assuredly be out for Week 13 as well. However, head coach Sean McVay told reporters this afternoon that he’s “shooting for” Woods to return by December 10, although the young coach did clarify that the more likely return date would be a week later than that, tweets Aiden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Woods has been a real impact free agent for LA, especially in recent weeks, as he’s recorded 20 catches and four touchdowns in the last three games he played. Without the 25-year-old receiver, the Rams will more heavily rely on Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds.
  • The Cardinals officially agreed to a contract extension with defensive tackle Corey Peters earlier in the day. Now we are learning more about the specific finances of the new deal looks like. The 29-year-old defensive lineman will earn $12MM over three years with $7.25MM being paid in total guarantees, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport adds that Peters’ deal also includes a $2.75MM signing bonus and incentives that could add another $1MM to the total value of the contract.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Kelly, Cardinals

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 Cardinals2018 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.

NFC Notes: Jenkins, Winston, Seahawks

The Giants‘ disastrous 2017 season keeps getting worse. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been playing for the last two months with a “debilitating” ankle injury that has limited his ability to cut and change direction (which certainly could explain why he has regressed this year after enjoying a strong 2016 campaign, his first with Big Blue). Schefter says that Jenkins will need to undergo ankle surgery at some point, and doctors are scheduled to discuss the matter tomorrow. It sounds as if Jenkins will be shut down so that he can have the surgery, which makes plenty of sense given that the Giants do not have anything to play for this year.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Schefter reports that the NFL has already spoken with Buccaneers head of security, Andres Trescastro, as part of its investigation into the most recent sexual assault accusations leveled against Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. Schefter says the conversation was more introductory and exploratory in nature, and that the league’s investigation is not expected to be wrapped up by the end of the season (which is hardly surprising).
  • Winston, of course, is also battling a shoulder injury, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) reports that the Buccaneers signal-caller received platelet-rich plasma injections several weeks ago and is rapidly improving. However, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com cautions that Winston receives an MRI every week, and last week’s MRI revealed he was still not ready to return to practice, despite the PRP injection. Taking reps in practice will be the next step for Winston.
  • Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll indicated that there will soon be more clarity on the injuries to defensive stalwarts Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Avril is battling a serious stinger and numbness in his arm that was initially reported to be career-threatening, while Chancellor is contending with a neck injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of the year, though Carroll recently kept the door open on a return for his star safety.
  • Seahawks left guard Luke Joeckel, who has missed the last five games following arthroscopic knee surgery, is expected to return to action for today’s matchup with the 49ers, as Brady Henderson of ESPN.com writes.
  • The Cowboys have waived Darren McFadden, and Ed Werder names the Seahawks as a potential fit for the former first-round pick (Twitter link). As Werder observes, Seattle is the only ream in the league without a running back that has rushed for 250 or more yards, making a McFadden-Seahawks marriage eminently plausible.
  • In addition to shakeups at cornerback and the rest of their roster, the Cowboys are looking at potential changes to their safety positions as well, as Clarence Hill, Jr. of the Star-Telegram tweets.

NFC Notes: Avril, Redskins, Panthers, Sloter

After being placed on injured reserve earlier this week, there were whispers that Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril could decide to hang up his cleats. While the player subsequently denied those reports, coach Pete Carroll addressed the rumors earlier today.

“We have to wait and see on that,” Carroll said (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson). “That’s really up to the docs and Cliff and all that kind of stuff, and I’m one-thousand percent supportive of whatever we need to do here to help him, and so that’s why we’re taking our time. The IR thing gives him six weeks at least to figure whatever else we can figure out. But he’s not sure what’s best for him right now and he’s trying to find that out. We’re giving him hopefully a good sense and a comfort that we’re going to support it all the way throughout and figure out what’s best and all that.” 

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • The Redskins placed rookie defense end Jonathan Allen on the injured reserve earlier today, but ESPN.com’s John Keim reports that the team is hoping he’ll be back before the end of the season. Coach Jay Gruden said the team’s prognosis changed after the player underwent surgery on Wednesday night. “We got better news after the surgery that it wouldn’t be as lengthy as they typically are,” Gruden said. “That’s good news. But we still have to rehab it. He’s a big man and sometimes bigger guys take a little bit longer. We’ll wait and see. Hopefully we see him again, but it’s up to the rehab.”
  • While it was initially believed that Kurt Coleman could miss up to a month, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that the Panthers safety could return this weekend after missing only a pair of games. Coleman suffered a sprained knee ligament earlier this month in a win over the Patriots. Meanwhile, linebacker Luke Kuechly made more progress towards passing the concussion protocol, as the Pro Bowler was seen riding a stationary bike earlier today.
  • Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is confident that he’ll return this season, and the team may be forced to make a difficult roster decision. With the team currently rostering Sam Bradford and Case Keenum, third-stringer Kyle Sloter appears to be the odd man out. Of course, the undrafted rookie isn’t worried about future transactions, as he’s confident he’ll find a job elsewhere. “I’m not really too concerned day in and day out with my NFL future,’’ Sloter told Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. “I think that I’ll have a job.” The reporter also tweets that the organization could look to pass Sloter through waivers with hopes that he’ll land on their practice squad.