The Seahawks have signed free-agent defensive end Cliff Avril to a two-year, $15 million deal, reports both Albert Breer and Adam Schefter, with John Clayton reporting the terms.
Avril, 26, is listed at 6'3, 260 and has 125 tackles, 39.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, and an interception in his five-year career. He had 9.5 sacks in 2012 and 11 in 2011, and in many ways is a similar player to Chris Clemons. As friend of the blog Glen Peer put it, 'his YouTube highlights are "Chris Clemons" in a different uniform.'
Avril has started all 16 games for the Lions in the past two seasons, and fits almost perfectly to the prototype for the Seahawks "LEO" position - explosive get-off, natural and elite bend around the corner, with long arms and strong hands to force fumbles and wrap up the quarterback or ball carrier. He's played on both sides of the Detroit line so it should be interesting to see how Seattle plans to use him, but when paired with Bruce Irvin as 'jet ends', the Seahawks' pass rush on third down just got better.
As Field Gulls/ScoutTheSeahawks analyst Derek Stephens writes on Twitter, "Avril will remind Seahawks fans of Chris Clemons - similar energy (motor). Better get-off and speed. Successfully rushed from both sides in Detroit. Avril also more flexible to dip and pin the edge, and had been clocked as low as 4.51 unofficially, when he came out of Purdue." 4.51? Wow. Bruce Irvin-esque? They certainly have a type.
With Chris Clemons' ACL recovery likely to run into the 2013 season, this two-year deal gives Seattle much-needed versatility and depth at the LEO position until he returns (Dexter Davis is still on the roster as well), and when Clemons is able to return - hopefully not too far into the season, the addition of Avril should provide for some interesting looks in Seattle's nickel packages. Most importantly, assuming Clemons is retained despite his injury, Seattle's depth at the position gets a boon for their hopeful playoffs run. The Giants are an example of a team that has relied on stockpiled talent on the defensive line for their late-season success, and that's how I'm looking at this deal.