Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril told the NFL Network he wants to try to play again if he can recover well enough from a neck injury suffered last season.
Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril told the NFL Network that he hopes to play again after having surgery in November on his disc after suffering a neck injury that resulted in stingers in a game against Indianapolis on Oct. 1.
“I believe so,” Avril said to the NFL Network’s Steve Wyche on The Aftermath when asked if he will ever play football again. “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.”
The team, though, has expressed skepticism that Avril will be able to make it back.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said on his radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle earlier on Jan. 2 that Avril and Kam Chancellor — who suffered a similar injury against Arizona — “are going to have a hard time playing again” hinting that each may have to retire. At his press conference later that day Carroll was a bit more vague about their futures saying “honestly I really can’t (clarify their futures). I shouldn’t say anymore than ‘we don’t know yet.’ I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you there. Both those guys are marvelous people and competitors and all that. We’d love to see them through the rest of their career. I don’t know what’s going to happen there.”
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But if Avril does play again, there’s no guarantee it would be with the Seahawks.
Even if healthy, the contract of Avril — who will turn 32 in April — was going to present a quandary for the Seahawks. Avril has just one year left on his deal and the team can save $7.5 million against the salary cap by releasing him while taking just a $500,000 hit in dead money.
That had led to speculation even before Avril was injured that the 2017 season might be his last with the Seahawks.
NFL salary cap expert Joel Corry, a former agent who now works for CBSSports.com, said in November that the team would have to pay Avril an additional $1.15 million in an injury protection payout if he cannot play again due to his injury but that otherwise the team would have no further finanial obligation to him.
At that time, Corry said there was one way the team could bring back Avril while minimizing its financial risk due to his injury — turning his base salary into per-game roster bonuses.
But it’s unclear if that’s something the Seahawks will want to do as it has already been thought they will be looking to shed some of their older players with larger salaries, which has led to the speculation of the team also potentially releasing 32-year-old defensive lineman Michael Bennett.
But Avril, who was injured when he dove to make a tackle of Colts’ QB Jacoby Brissett with Brissett’s foot hitting Avril in the chin and knocking his neck back, told the NFL Network he hopes to play again with Seattle.
“I mean, it’s something I love to do,” said Avril, who was signed prior to the 2013 season after playing from 2008-12 with Detroit. “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 want 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 also said he thinks the Seahawks will keep many of their key players around.
“I think we’re still close enough,” Avril said. “I for sure think they’ll keep the core group of guys around. I think they’ll keep the guys who are great leaders around to bring the young players along. So I don’t think they’ll take too much of step back if they do decide to rebuild.”
As Avril notes, though, he still has to recover and then get cleared to play, so some significant steps remain.
Should that happen, then the Seahawks will have some decisions to make.