After the release of Cliff Avril, there are now eight players from the 2013-14 Super Bowl-winning team who remain on the Seahawks roster. Seattle is expected to clear around $6 million in salary cap space with the move.
The Seahawks on Friday made a not-unexpected move to release veteran defensive end Cliff Avril, doing so with a designation that he failed his physical.
Avril, who turned 32 last month, last played on Oct. 1 against the Colts when he suffered a neck injury that resulted in stingers.
The team said he would continue to be evaluated to see if he could safely return to play.
But for now, the team has decided he can no longer play, confirming long-held speculation that the injury could end his career.
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Avril’s release also will save the Seahawks about $6 million against the salary cap. Avril’s release officially saves $7.125 million against the cap. But the team also may have to pay $1.15 million in a league-mandated injury protection payout if Avril cannot play again.
Avril, though, did not rule out that he might still try to play in a story on The Players’ Tribune that was released Friday afternoon after the announcement of his release.
“As of right now, I’m not sure what the future holds for me,” Avril wrote. “A lot of people have been asking me if I’m considering retirement, and all I can really say is that I’m working closely with my doctors and that I’m going to make the best decision for myself and my family when the time is right. For now, as my time as a Seahawk comes to an end, I really just want to show my gratitude.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll also said he couldn’t say that Avril would not play again.
“I don’t know,” Carroll said. “I can’t say that. I don’t know. But you know, at this point, that’s the decision that he is not going to play now.”
Avril had 34.5 sacks in four-plus seasons with the Seahawks — which ranks 10th in team history — signing as a free agent prior to the 2013 season when he had eight in helping lead Seattle to its first Super Bowl title. He also ends his Seattle career tied for fourth in team history with 13 forced fumbles and is first in sacks in the post-season with 6.5.
Avril was officially credited with the first points of a 43-8 win over Denver in the Super Bowl, a safety on a bad snap on the Broncos’ first play of the game
“Cliff was a fantastic player for us,” Carroll said Friday. “We were very fortunate to get him back when we did years ago. And because of where he had been and what he had been through, he came in with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, and did nothing but great stuff. He has been a great leader and a bit of a statesman for us. He always says the right thing and stands for the right stuff and he has been a really high-character guy who you can just always count on. He has been a great competitor in the program, and I love him, and we’d like to keep him connected with our club as long as we can, because he’s just exactly what you’d hope to represent you. He has had a great career with us, we couldn’t have done it without him. I know this is a turn for him, but it’s a good turn. He’s had a good career that he put behind him and he’s moving on feeling good, and we’ll always be grateful for all the work he brought us.”
The move comes as the Seahawks are getting ready to host their rookie mini-camp Friday afternoon at the VMAC and opens up a roster spot as Seattle will fill out all 90 slots on the roster with drafted rookies and undrafted free agents.
Avril’s release leaves just eight players on the roster who were part of the Super Bowl-winning team — QB Russell Wilson, receiver Doug Baldwin, linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Byron Maxwell, safety Kam Chancellor and punter Jon Ryan.
Shortly after the release was made official Avril took to social media to say goodbye to Seahawks fans.
Avril has been exploring options in sports media, having made appearances on local radio stations as well as the NFL Network, and he could look to now transition into a media/broadcasting role if he decides not to pursue playing again.
Avril initially signed with the Seahawks in March, 2013, on a two-year deal worth up to $15.1 million after playing from 2008-12 with the Lions, who had drafted him in the third round in 2008 out of Purdue.
He re-signed with the Seahawks in December of 2014, a four-year contract worth up to $28.5 million.
Avril was injured when he dove at the feet of Colts quarterback Jacoby Brisset — Avril was hit on the chin by Brissett’s feet, snapping his neck back and causing what Carroll at the time called “serious stingers” that caused numbness in his hands. He had surgery to repair a disc in November.
In The Players’ Tribune, Avril wrote that he did not anticipate that play could be his last in the NFL — he had made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career in 2016 when he had a career-high 11.5 sacks.
Avril had expressed the hope that he could continue to play but Carroll had foreshadowed today’s release when he said last January that Avril and Chancellor — who suffered a similar injury in a game against Arizona on Nov. 9 — would have “a hard time playing football again.”
Chancellor remains on the roster, in part due to a contract that includes injury guarantees for the next two seasons that total $12 million and hefty dead cap numbers which means Seattle has no financial motivation for releasing him now.