Cliff Avril

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.

Cliff Avril Not Thinking Retirement

Retirement is reportedly on the table for the Seahawks’ Cliff Avril, but that’s news to the injured defensive end. Avril told Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that he is not considering walking away from football (Twitter link).

Cliff Avril

Head coach Pete Carroll announced Wednesday that Avril will go on injured reserve, noting that “he’s seeing a bunch of doctors” and is “seriously looking at a big decision.” Many deduced from Carroll’s comments that Avril was determining whether to continue his career, but those inferences were apparently incorrect.

“People are saying I’m retiring because of what coach Carroll said, but he’s referring to surgery,” Avril told Schultz.

Thanks to a serious stinger and numbness in his arm, Avril is likely done for the year, at the very least. He suffered the injury during the Seahawks’ win over the Colts on Oct. 1, forcing him to sit out their most recent game – a 16-10 victory over the Rams – the next week. Seattle, which is coming off a bye, is off to a decent start (3-2), but its defense ranks an uncharacteristically low 12th in DVOA and sits toward the bottom of the league in sacks (11).

Thanks in part to Avril and his 33.5 sacks, the Seahawks’ stop unit ranked between first and fifth in DVOA in each of the previous four seasons. But while Avril was a force during that stretch, he didn’t perform like his usual self early this season – which helps explain the decline the Seahawks’ defense has experienced. The 31-year-old picked up one sack in four games, and his performance ranks just 100th among 104th qualifying edge rushers at Pro Football Focus.

Even if Avril’s career isn’t in doubt, his future in Seattle looks uncertain. If the Seahawks don’t think the longtime sack artist will return to form, they could cut him in the offseason and save $7.5MM of his $8MM cap hit in 2018 – the final year of Avril’s contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks To Place Cliff Avril On IR

It sounds like Cliff Avril’s season might be over. Coach Pete Carroll says the defensive end will be placed on injured reserve (Twitter link via SiriusXM). Avril is said to be considering retirement, so this sounds like the season-ending variety of IR rather than an eight-week stint. Cliff Avril (vertical)

[RELATED: Branden Albert Declines Seahawks’ Offer]

Avril was initially said to be dealing with a “serious stinger,” but the problem goes much further than that. The 31-year-old experienced numbness in his arm, a sign that he could be have a much more serious problem.

Avril appeared in 63 of 64 games for the Seahawks from 2013-16 and racked up 33.5 sacks during that time. Losing him will be a tough blow for Seattle, particularly given the lackluster play they’ve gotten out of the defensive line so far this year. At the same time, Avril has not been playing up to his usual level. He has actually been among the league’s worst edge defenders (among those with enough snaps to qualify), per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Notes: Avril, Joeckel, Alexander

As he continues to deal with a neck injury, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril has sought multiple medical opinions and is visiting another doctor today, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. Head coach Pete Carroll originally indicated Avril would be sidelined “awhile” with a stinger and numbness in his arm, but subsequent reports have expressed concern about the future of Avril’s career. While Seattle has the defensive line depth to withstand a Avril absence (Frank Clark, Marcus Smith), his absence will certainly be felt, and doubts about his ability to continue playing are certainly worrisome.

Here’s more from Seattle:

  • Left guard Luke Joeckel is expected to miss four-to-five weeks after undergoing knee surgery during the Seahawks’ bye week, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Joeckel, who signed a one-year, $8MM contract this spring, has played every snap at left guard for Seattle this season. Perhaps unsurprisingly given his track record with the Jaguars, Joeckel had struggled — along with the rest of the Seahawks’ offensive line — through five games, grading as the No. 44 guard among 75 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Mark Glowinski and rookie Ethan Pocic will now compete to replace Joeckel, per Condotta.
  • Free agent safety Maurice Alexander is visiting with the Seahawks this week, as Condotta writes in a full piece. Seattle should be relatively familiar with Alexander, as he’d spent the entirety of his four-year NFL career with the Rams. Alexander, who has also auditioned for the Jets and Cardinals since being waived last week, offers valuable experience (18 starts over the past season-plus), but he’d seemingly be overkill in Seattle. The Seahawks already boast two of the NFL’s best safeties in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, plus veteran Bradley McDougald and rookies Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson in reserve.
  • If recent history is any indication, Seahawks defenders Dion Jordan and DeShawn Shead likely won’t return to the field for three more weeks, opines Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Both Jordan, a defensive end, and Shead, a cornerback, are allowed to resume practicing today, but neither player is ready to roll just yet. Once they are, Seattle will get a three-week window during which Jordan and/or Shead can be added to the 53-man roster. Jordan is currently on the non-football injury list, while Shead is on the physically unable to perform list. As Henderson notes, the Seahawks have typically given their players ample practice time before activating them.

Cliff Avril’s Career In Doubt

We heard several days ago that Seahawks DE Cliff Avril is dealing with a serious stinger, numbness in his arm, and is expected to miss an indefinite period of time. Unfortunately, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), Avril’s career could be over.

Cliff Avril

Per Glazer, the injury is far more serious than expected, and Avril will have to determine whether it is worth jeopardizing his long-term health to try and get back on the field.

Avril, 31, has been a stalwart for the Seahawks in recent years, as he appeared in 63 of 64 games from 2013-16 and racked up 33.5 sacks during that time. Although he’d been on the field for 68% of Seattle’s plays thus far, Pro Football Focus hasn’t been enamored with his work — Avril has graded as a bottom-five edge defender and earned horrible marks as a pass-rusher, per PFF.

Avril does have a Super Bowl ring, which he earned with Seattle at the end of the 2013 season. He is in his tenth season, his fifth with Seattle, after spending the first five years of his career with Detroit. The Lions selected him out of Purdue in the third round of the 2008 draft, and he quickly established himself as a capable pass rusher, racking up five sacks in his rookie season. He has compiled a total of 74 sacks in his career, and though Seattle has the horses to help make up for his production, his absence will still be felt (PFF’s evaluation of his 2017 work notwithstanding).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks DE Cliff Avril Out “Awhile”

Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is dealing with a “serious stinger” and will be sidelined “awhile,” head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Curtis Crabtree of KJR (Twitter link) and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), the latter of whom reports that Avril is experiencing numbness in his arm.Cliff Avril

Seattle’s defensive line hasn’t lived up to its talent thus far in 2017, as the club’s front four ranks in the bottom half of the league in both adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards. But it’s hard to argue that the Seahawks don’t have the pieces to cover up a lengthy Avril absence. Frank Clark, who’s played on roughly half of Seattle’s defensive snaps this season after posting 10 sacks in 2016, should see increased usage, while the Hawks could also more heavily deploy former Eagles first-round pick Marcus Smith, who saw action on 27 plays in Seattle’s Week 4 victory.

Avril, 31, has been a stalwart for the Seahawks in recent years, as he appeared in 63 of 64 games from 2013-16 and racked up 33.5 sacks during that time. Although he’d been on the field for 68% of Seattle’s plays thus far, Pro Football Focus hasn’t been enamored with his work — Avril has graded as a bottom-five edge defender and earned horrible marks as a pass-rusher, per PFF.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Hawks, Falcons, Pack, Saints

The Seahawks had been in danger of losing a second-round pick for failing to disclose cornerback Richard Sherman‘s “significant” MCL injury during the season, but the NFL decided Monday to let them off with a warning, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. The league concluded that the Seahawks merely misinterpreted its rules, per Garafolo. The news that Seattle is escaping punishment isn’t particularly surprising, as one of Garafolo’s NFL.com colleagues, Ian Rapoport, reported earlier this month that Seattle wasn’t going to face serious discipline for its violation.

More from Seattle and a few other NFL cities:

  • The Falcons have hired Bush Hamdan as their quarterbacks coach, reports Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). The younger brother of former NFL quarterback Gibran Hamdan, Bush Hamdan spent the previous two seasons as the University of Washington’s wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. He’s taking over in Atlanta for Matt LaFleur, now the Rams’ offensive coordinator. In doing so, Hamdan will reunite with head coach Dan Quinn, notes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), as the two worked together at the University of Florida in 2012.
  • The Packers have a decision to make on pending free agent defensive back Micah Hyde, who could seek $4MM-plus per year on his next contract, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Hyde, who’s coming off an 11-start, three-interception season, has been with the Packers since they selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. If Hyde moves on, Green Bay could turn to Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans, Demovsky suggests. Elsewhere in the secondary, the team will either extend safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or exercise his fifth-year option for 2018, as Demovsky opines that the Pro Bowler could be general manager Ted Thompson‘s best first-round pick since he chose Aaron Rodgers in 2005. Clinton-Dix made a strong case for that honor as a third-year pro in 2016, when he played every defensive snap for the Packers and picked off five passes.
  • Newly signed Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh‘s single-year contract is worth $1.1MM and includes no guaranteed money, per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Walsh stands to earn an $800K salary and could make another $300K in bonuses. The Seahawks are likely to bring in another kicker to compete against Walsh for the job this summer. Odds are that won’t be soon-to-be free agent Steven Hauschka, observes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, considering the five-year Seahawk will likely be out of their price range.
  • Continuing a Seahawks-heavy set of notes, defensive end Cliff Avril tweeted that he underwent successful surgery Tuesday. Avril didn’t specify which type of surgery he underwent, though Condotta points out that the physician who performed the procedure – Dr. William C. Meyers – specializes in core and sports hernia operations. Regardless, Avril should be fine for 2017 and will attempt to build on his first Pro Bowl season – an 11.5-sack, five-forced fumble campaign.
  • Fullback John Kuhn‘s one-year pact with the Saints is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $1.08MM, tweets Nick Underhill of The Advocate. Kuhn will earn a $1MM salary and count $695K against New Orleans’ cap in 2017.

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Thurmond, Giants

Some assorted notes from around the NFC…

  • The 2016 base salaries for several Seahawks players will be guaranteed today, tweets Joel Corry of CBSSports.com. The list includes Richard Sherman ($12.569MM), Russell Wilson ($12.342MM), Cliff Avril ($6MM) and K.J. Wright ($5.25MM). $6MM of Earl Thomas‘ $8MM 2016 salary is also guaranteed today (via Corry).
  • The Eagles and free agent safety Walter Thurmond haven’t started discussions on an extension, tweets Geoff Mosher. The two sides are expected to start talking at the NFL Combine.
  • Jordan Raanan of NJ.com puts the Giants chance of retaining cornerback Prince Amukamara at “40 percent.” With the 26-year-old expected to fetch a contract of at least $10MM annually, Raanan isn’t convinced that the team is willing to spend at the position.
  • Raanan also believes the Giants should pursue Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon. The 25-year-old is younger than Mario Williams (who is expected to be released) and he’s more dependable than Jason Pierre-Paul.

NFC Rumors: Forte, Jeffery, Hardy, Avril

Matt Forte‘s free agency bid’s played a role in the Bears running back’s recovery timetable, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old dual-threat back suffered a sprained MCL two weeks ago and, similar to a pitcher in the last days of his contract with a non-playoff-bound team, Forte won’t rush back.

That’s [a factor], if not the most important factor — the future,” Forte told reporters, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. “Because if you go out there for one game and then ruin the rest of your season and maybe your career, then that’s a big factor. There’s a lot of football left to be played. So you don’t want to chance it for one game.”

Forte’s in the fourth and final year of a $30.4MM pact, his second with the Bears, and as of now looks to be the top option in the 2016 running back class, along with Chris Ivory.

Florio does speculate Forte would be more inclined to return to the field sooner if the Bears decided to offer him a third contract.

Here’s some more news coming out of the NFC locales.

  • If the Bears were observing a healthy contract year from Alshon Jeffery, the decision to re-sign the fourth-year wideout to a lucrative, long-term extension wouldn’t be difficult, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes. Jeffery’s been on and off the injury report this season, missing four games, and this week’s served as a microcosm, with the ex-second-rounder dominating Monday night only to miss practice time this week with his third leg-muscle injury this season. Campbell offers that the Bears could place some escalators in Jeffery’s possible extension revolving around playing time. “You have to bet on the player that he’s going to get healthy,” former GM Mark Domenik said. “When you start to bet that your guy is going to be hurt, if you think that, then you probably shouldn’t sign him. Move on and do it with a clear conscience.”
  • The release of the domestic violence photos in association with the Greg Hardy case a day after the Cowboys defensive end saw this incident expunged from his record illustrates how the NFL likely wanted that information out there, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Mecklenburg (N.C.) County District Attorney’s office and the Charlotte Police Department informed the Globe they did not release the photos, and the NFL, due to its independent investigation, was the only other entity with access to the photos and transcript, Volin writes.
  • Rumors connected Rod Marinelli to a potential return to Tampa Bay prior to signing a three-year extension with the Cowboys in January, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. Marinelli has connections to both the Bucs, who employed him as their defensive line coach from 1996-2005, and Lovie Smith, whom Marinelli worked for from 2009-12 with the Bears.
  • Prior to his father’s death, Cliff Avril told him he would only play in the NFL for 10 years due to health reasons, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. The 29-year-old Seahawks defensive end’s in his eighth season. “And I plan on it,” he says. “Unless something crazy happens and they’re offering me some ridiculous amount of money.” Avril said. “Then he’d probably tell me to keep playing.”

2015 Salaries Become Guaranteed For Sherman, Thomas, Others

Five members of the NFC champion Seahawks will have their 2015 base salaries become fully guaranteed today, as former agent Joel Corry explains on CBSSports.com. This list includes cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas, linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

Sherman’s guaranteed salary in 2015 is $10MM, the highest of the group. Combined with his $2.2MM signing bonus, the cornerback’s cap hit will be worth an estimated $12.2MM next season. This total is more than three times the value of Sherman’s cap hit last season. Meanwhile, one of Sherman’s fellow defensive backs will also be earning a chunk of change today. Thomas’ $5.5MM salary becomes guaranteed, meaning the All-Pro safety will count for $7.4MM against the ‘Hawks cap (counting the player’s $1.9MM prorated signing bonus).

Wright’s salary and cap hit will take a significant jump in 2015. The linebacker’s $3.75MM is now full guaranteed, and coupled with the player’s $1MM signing bonus, Wright counts for $4.75 against the cap. Michael Bennett’s cap hit will be worth twice as much as its 2014 value, as the defensive end’s $6MM salary is now guaranteed. Combined with the player’s $2MM signing bonus, Bennett will count for $8MM against the cap. Finally, fellow defensive end Avril had his $7.5MM salary guaranteed. Add that total to the veteran’s $500K signing bonus, and the player’s cap hit is worth $8MM (a drop from last season’s value).

Two other members of the organization had their contracts partially guaranteed today. Safety Kam Chancellor had $4.45MM of his $4.55MM salary guaranteed, meaning his cap hit is worth $5.5MM. $2.3MM of wideout Doug Baldwin‘s $2.8MM salary becomes guaranteed today, meaning the player now counts for an estimated $3.9MM against the cap.