Cliff Avril wants to play but should Seahawks have him back?

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 01: Jacoby Brissett (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 01: Jacoby Brissett (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

Cliff Avril may want to play football again. The Seahawks need impact players. But is Avril worth the risk for Seattle to bring him back in 2018?

Cliff Avril has been a very good player with the Seahawks. His loss may have led to Seattle losing Super Bowl XLIX. He has been constantly underrated. And overshadowed by his more vocal teammates while with Seattle.

In 2016, potentially Avril’s best season, he finally made a Pro Bowl. That that was his first one is completely ridiculous. Still, he deserved the accolade. Avril finished with 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles last year. And for most of 2017, the Seahawks missed Avril’s production immensely.

No disrespect to Frank Clark, who became Avril’s full-time replacement after Avril’s 2017 injury. But Clark is not yet and possibly never will be the player Avril became. Avril was consistent, which is one thing that Clark struggles with. Avril caused offensive coordinators to account for him, and this led to Michael Bennett having great years.

Not to bring up the Seahawks loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl too much, but Bennett was in the backfield on nearly every pass prior to Avril’s injury in the game. Bennett hit Tom Brady four times and pressured him several times more. After Avril went out, New England could focus on Bennett and this affected the entire Seattle defense.

The 2017 injury

Cliff Avril, though, suffered a neck injury in week four against the Indianapolis Colts. This, of course, was just the first stone in a whole path of Seahawk defensive injuries in 2017 which ultimately killed the season.

It seems most people have just assumed that Avril will not ever play again. Not because he physically couldn’t but because Avril suffered a scary and potentially life altering injury. Who could blame Avril for not wanting to play again after that?

But Avril told the NFL Network that he does intend to play again.

"I mean, it’s something I love to do. 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"

Avril also told Brock Huard of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk Show on Wednesday when Huard asked if Avril was prepared to play again

"Well, first and foremost, I mean, my health is most important, right? So for me, I just want to get back to feeling good, right? I just want to get back to being able to move around and hopefully be able to get outside and play basketball with my kids, and different things like that. That’s the main goal for me. Not necessarily getting back to football, but just quality of life, right?"

So whether Avril does in fact come back to play football is still in question. And whether he will play with the Seahawks again is another.

Might Seattle be done with Avril

Avril, like the rest of us, isn’t getting younger. The defensive end will be 32 in April. That’s pretty old for an NFL defensive lineman. Avril made $4.5 million in 2016. But in 2017 he is due to make $7 million plus bonuses. In an offseason where Seattle needs to make a decision whether to try to re-sign young Sheldon Richardson, those $7 million make a big impact.

Plus, if Avril were to be cut, his dead money is just $500,000. In other words, nothing.

Still, Avril’s biggest impact might come not in on-field production but off it. The Seahawks players love him. Avril is by all accounts a good person. And he is a good and important leader in the locker room. He also has an excellent relationship with incoming defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Related Story: Seahawks hire Ken Norton Jr. to be defensive coordinator

John Schneider and Pete Carroll will weight all of this when deciding whether to cut Avril before next season. For this 12 at least, I hope I am watching Cliff Avril play home games at CenturyLink next year.