RENTON — Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, so adept at taking the quickest route to NFL quarterbacks, had to take the long way to get the kind of contract that would allow him to finally call someplace home.
But that road ended for Avril on Friday when it was announced he had signed a four-year extension with the Seahawks worth as much as $28.5 million, with $16 million guaranteed.
The contract should keep him in Seattle through 2018 and comes a day after the team announced K.J. Wright had signed a similar four-year extension, further solidifying the future of a defense that ranks No. 1 in the NFL.
For Avril, it caps a journey that began when he turned down a three-year, $30 million deal with Detroit in 2012, thinking he might be worth more on the open market. He then played under a franchise tag in 2012 and entered free agency the following year. That offseason, though, the market for defensive ends cooled and Avril ended up with a two-year deal with the Seahawks worth as much as $15.1 million if he met all incentives.
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As Avril often said, it wasn’t chump change. But it also wasn’t quite the deal he envisioned.
That finally came this week when the Seahawks, after months of talks between the two sides, offered the deal Avril had long sought.
“It’s taken a while to get a multiyear deal, but everything happens for a reason,” said Avril, who has 4½ sacks for Seattle this season and, according to Pro Football Focus, has the fourth-most quarterback hurries among 4-3 defensive ends at 38.
“It’s all about timing. You know a few years ago people were talking about the free-agency market and all these different things and it just worked out for me here and I’m definitely happy that they wanted me back and I’m happy to be back.”
Avril’s signing means Seattle has now locked up six members of its defense through at least 2017 — the others being safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Michael Bennett and Wright.
Thomas, Sherman and Bennett all signed last spring (as did receiver Doug Baldwin). Avril said he wanted to get a new deal done then, too, but was told by the team that “they had different things they had to try to do to get things going. And I just told my agent not to call me really through the season until something was really worth paying attention to. And they called me, and viola.”
Coach Pete Carroll said the team was simply able to make some moves now with the business year coming to an end.
“We’re coming down to the end of that and we wanted to make sure we get everything in line as best we can,” Carroll said. “We have a huge plan and it goes on and we’ve been at it the whole time.”
Seattle was given some additional financial flexibility with the trade of receiver Percy Harvin in October, which saved the team about $6.4 million in salary for 2014 and also clarified things a bit for the salary cap in future seasons.
As Carroll noted, though, the team is far from done from securing who it views as its core players.
After the season, the team is expected to begin negotiating new deals with quarterback Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. Those talks can’t begin until after the season.
“There’s more things to do here as we go through this,” Carroll said.
And despite the commitment of as much as $55.5 million over the next four years to two defensive players, Seattle still appears well positioned to get deals done with Wagner and Wilson.
Joel Corry, a former NFL agent who now writes for CBSSports.com, said Friday “it’s still possible’’ to sign extensions with Wagner and Wilson without having to shed much other salary, particularly depending on how the contracts are structured.
Carroll said the Avril and Wright signings are further proof the team will do what it takes to keep its core players.
“We found a core group we really like, and we are trying to keep them here,” Carroll said. “We have told these guys for years this message that the core is here and we want to keep it together and grow together and see how far we can take it.”
That sounds just fine to Avril, who last spring got married and now knows he won’t have to pack up and move again anytime soon. He said he didn’t want to go through free agency and compared re-upping with the Seahawks to signing a college letter of intent.
“It kind of gives you that college feel where you to go college and you are going to be with those guys for four or five years, just knowing that a lot of us are going to be here for the next few years and only growing and getting better,’’ he said. “It’s just cool to know that the locker room won’t change too, too much. That’s rare in the NFL.”
|Keeping the team intact|
|The Seahawks have made it a point in recent years to retain as many of their core group as possible, whether it was Kam Chancellor after the 2012 season or Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin this past offseason. A list of players who have received extensions or re-signed with the Seahawks recently:|
|S Kam Chancellor||2017 season||5 years, $35 million ($17 million guaranteed)|
|DL Michael Bennett||2017 season||4 years, $28.5 million ($16 million guaranteed)|
|S Earl Thomas||2018 season||4 years, $40 million ($27.725M guaranteed)|
|CB Richard Sherman||2017 season||4 years, $57 million ($40 million guaranteed)|
|WR Doug Baldwin||2016 season||3 years, $13 million ($8.5 million guaranteed)|
|LB K.J. Wright||2018 season||4 years, $27 million|
|DE Cliff Avril||2018 season||4 years, $28.5 million ($16 million guaranteed)|
Key Seahawks free agents
|Though still under contract, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are expected to be offseason priorities for Seattle. Seahawks free agents include:|
|Jermaine Kearse (restricted)||Wide receiver|