Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is expected to soon be placed on injured reserve with the possibility that his career could be over becoming more of a reality each day.
Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is expected to go on injured reserve this week as the reality that his football career could be over becomes more stark in the aftermath of a neck and spinal injury suffered Oct. 1 against Indianapolis.
Coach Pete Carroll said in an interview Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio that, “Cliff Avril will go on IR. He’s seeing a bunch of doctors, seriously looking at a big decision.”
The Seahawks said no move had been made to put Avril on IR, but it could happen soon.
If that happens, Avril would miss at least eight games. Two players a year who are placed on IR can be brought back to the active roster after eight weeks, and unlike in past years teams no longer have to make that declaration when the player goes on IR. So Avril could return this season.
Carroll’s comment reiterates earlier statements that not only is Avril’s season in question, but he might not play again.
Avril, 31, was out of town Wednesday seeing another specialist. He suffered numbness in his arms and hands when his head snapped back after being kicked in the chin while trying to tackle Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
While Carroll’s comments were portrayed by some as indicating that Avril was considering retiring, he told Yahoo.com that the decision Carroll was referring to is whether Avril should have surgery.
“People are saying I’m retiring because of what coach Carroll said but he’s referring to surgery,” Avril was quoted as saying via text.
There already had been speculation that Avril might be a salary-cap casualty after this season. His contract runs through 2018, when he has an $8 million cap hit but just $500,000 in dead money. That means Seattle would save $7.5 million against the cap if he were to be released.
Michael Bennett, one of Avril’s closest friends on the team, said Avril is struggling with the reality that his career could be finished.
“I think it’s a hard situation,” Bennett said. “I think any time you do something for a long period of time and it gets taken away from you and you can’t walk away from it the way you want to walk away from it, it’s a stressful thing. So I think it’s good that the Seahawks are so great and letting this be a private kind of affair and not really keeping people too in tune with what is going on. But I know it’s very hard for him at this moment, because he didn’t get to do what he wanted to do.”
Asked if he got the sense that Avril is considering retirement, Bennett said: “I just get the sense he doesn’t know what is going on, and he is walking into the unknown and trying to figure out how to deal with things as they come, and he has to do that. And it’s more about him and his family than it is about being a Seahawks player. It’s more about him talking to his wife and just figuring out things as they are going on.”
The possibility of Avril’s career being over comes a year after he had his best season. He had 11.5 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Bennett said the harsh reality that careers can end at any time is something players have no choice but to accept.
“This game is really one play at a time,” Bennett said. “You look at (Boston Celtics forward) Gordon Hayward (who on Tuesday suffered a gruesome dislocated ankle and broken leg). Everyday you are just literally one play and it’s gone. Football is like that, sports are like that. It’s just sad, because fans don’t have that connection between those injuries and that. So it’s just one of those things that we’ve got to just keep praying for him (Avril) and hopefully he has the support to keep going forward and he is not alone as he goes through the process of being on IR and all that kind of stuff.”
Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said after Wednesday’s practice that nothing had been decided about Avril’s future.
“We certainly hope (he can return),” Richard said. “There really isn’t anything in concrete or in stone that has been settled.”
Asked about playing without Avril for a while, Richard said: “Well he was a major part, he’s a big piece of our puzzle. You hear the cliché time and time again, next man up and it’s just very difficult, it’s very, very difficult. But we have to keep moving on and we have to rely on the guys that yes, next man in line and really it’s going to show who has been preparing because now that the next man is going to have his opportunity.”