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Cliff Avril Extension a Bargain for Seahawks in Search of Defensive Continuity

Published by Bleacher Report on Sat, 20 Dec 2014

The Seattle Seahawks vaunted defense is not being broken up anytime soon, with defensive end Cliff Avril being the latest to sign a multi-year extension.NFL Networks Ian Rapoport broke the news and reported the deal was for $28.5 million, including $16 million guaranteed.The extension comes one day after the team announced a four-year deal with linebacker K.J. Wright, which prompted questions on whether the Seahawks still had enough money to allocate toward retaining Avril, as well.Clearly, they did.Within the last nine months, the Seahawks have now locked up Wright, Avril, cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and defensive end Michael Bennett to long-term contracts, keeping the core of the NFLs top-ranked total defense under contract for the foreseeable future.A sixth player locked up on that defense through at least 2017 is safety Kam Chancellor, who signed a four-year extension prior to the 2013 season.NFL.coms Gregg Rosenthal made a note of that and opined what that continuity could mean for the Seattle defense:Almost certainly not by coincidence, Avril received the same contract the Seahawks gave to Bennett in March, which prevented him from testing unrestricted free agency. In two years with Seattle, the duo has combined for 27 sacks, 30 tackles for loss and 72 quarterback hits, according to STATS LLC.Over that same time frame, Avril is tied for eighth in the NFL with six forced fumbles.This season, Pro Football Focus has Avril ranked as the No. 13 overall 4-3 defensive end in the league (subscription required). PFF ranks him as the seventh-best pass-rusher at the position, behind Cameron Wake, Junior Galette, Robert Ayers, Robert Quinn, Charles Johnson and Bennett, while his 38 quarterback hurries rankfourth.Pro Football Focus analyst Pete Damilatis noted Avril has been one of the best pass-rushing ends in the league since signing with the Seahawks:According to OverTheCap, the guaranteed money in Avrils new contractusing the figures reported by Rapoportis tied for the 10th-most for a 4-3 defensive end. Given his production over the last two seasons, Avril likely could have made more on the open marketthough it seems plausible he would take less to stay in Seattle and keep the defense together.Avril, who was originally signed away from the Detroit Lions prior to the 2013 season, expressed his desire to stay with the Seahawks in an August piece by Bob Condotta of The Seattle Timesand sent the following tweet after signing his extension:The Seahawks defense, which struggled out of the gate this season (a Super Bowl hangover, perhaps) to the tune of 324.5 yards and 23.5 points per game over a 3-3 start, has been lights out since Week 8, allowing 233.3 yards and 12.6 points per game over that span.Those numbers, remarkably, are even better than last seasons Super Bowl team, which averaged 273.6 yards and 14.4 points per game.Over its current four-game winning streak, the Seahawks defense has limited opponents to 188 yards per game, including season lows for opponents in three straight games from Week 12 through14. In addition, it has recorded 16 sacks during that winning streak, more than the team's first 10 games combined (13).If youre a Seahawks fan, these recent deals for Wright and Avril ensure no drastic changes will be made to the defense moving forward. Seattle cannot yet negotiate an extension for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is playing in the third year of his four-year rookie contract, but Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times writes,"It's expected the team will extend [him] after the season."Unfortunately for opponents, the nucleus of this vaunted defense isnt going anywhere anytime soon, made possible by the trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets, as NFL Networks Ian Rapoport reports:With these extensions in the rear-view mirror, the Seahawks can turn their attention this offseason to Wagner, strongside linebacker Bruce Irvin, and, of course, quarterback Russell Wilson, all of whom will be entering the final seasons of their rookie contracts.Wagner, as mentioned, is likely to be extended, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports wrote Wilson will be the Seahawks next order of business:The opportunity cost of these extensions could end up being upcoming free-agents Byron Maxwell, an underrated yet replaceable cornerback, and left guard James Carpenter. The recent extensionsas well as the upcoming inevitable oneswill make it difficult to retain either.Still, as a tradeoff for keeping their core players on defenseand, eventually, the face of their offensein the fold, the Seahawks are well-positioned for more deep playoff runs and have extended their Super Bowl window for another handful of seasons.
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