The two-year agreement between Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril and the Seattle Seahawks? That one was tougher to see coming given perceptions about price and uncertainties relating to a potential role within the defense.
Thoughts on Avril and the Seahawks:
Clemons in mind: Seattle lost veteran defensive end Chris Clemons to a knee injury in January. Adding Avril could affect the budget for Clemons, at least in theory. Clemons is scheduled to earn $6 million in salary for the 2013 season. His contract is scheduled to count $8.17 million against the cap. Releasing Clemons could reduce the cap charge to $4.3 million this year or half that amount in both 2013 and 2014, depending upon how the Seahawks decided to account for the money. Releasing Clemons would not be a given, but it's good to keep the financial implications in mind while awaiting word on potential fallout.
Avril's pedigree: Avril had 9.5 sacks last season. He had 11.5 sacks in 2011. He is only 26 years old. Young players with high sack totals rarely reach the market. Detroit named Avril its franchise player once. The team decided against doing so a second time. There is some thought the Lions' scheme should get a disproportionate amount of credit for those sack totals in part because it calls for defensive ends to line up wider than usual, freeing them from some of the traditional duties associated with the position. Seattle has done a good job playing to players' strengths on defense.
Dimensions: Avril is 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds. Clemons is the same height and listed at 254 pounds. That doesn't necessarily mean Avril would step in for Clemons. The Seahawks used a 2012 first-round choice for Bruce Irvin because they thought he could step in for Clemons eventually. I would want to hear from the Seahawks exactly how they plan to use Avril before jumping to any conclusions.
Salary: Avril played last season for $10.6 million under the franchise tag. There are no financial terms reported on the two-year deal with Seattle, but the short length of the deal suggests Avril is settling for a lower annual salary figure in exchange for a chance at hitting the market again at age 28. That should work out well for the Seahawks, who must think about long-term deals for current members of their defense, which led the NFL in points allowed.
Impact: Seattle has now added Percy Harvin and Avril in a two-day period. No one can say the Seahawks weren't aggressive this offseason. These moves should get fans excited while addressing areas where Seattle had needs.