It looks, unfortunately, like Cliff Avril’s career is finished.
Pete Carroll told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Seahawks are going to put Avril on injured reserve, meaning his season probably is over. Carroll said the 31-year-old is “seeing a bunch of doctors, seriously looking at a big decision.”
If he can’t play now, despite apparently feeling fine after suffering a stinger against the Colts, why would he return off IR in eight weeks or come back at all in 2018? Carroll previously said tests “showed some stuff” — and the IR move indicates that “stuff” was serious enough to shut down one of Seattle’s top defenders.
Avril told Yahoo Sports he is not thinking of retiring right now and that the “big decision” is whether to undergo neck surgery.
But Michael Bennett made it sound very much like Avril, who is in his 10th NFL season, knows he needs to retire.
“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.”
If this is the sudden end for Avril, a la Mack Strong in 2007, the Seahawks will miss him — on the field and off.
Avril, who joined Seattle with Bennett in 2013, is one of the top seven or eight defensive linemen in the 42-year history of the Seahawks — a list led by Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy and fellow Ring of Honor member Jacob Green. Avril is right up there with Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Michael Sinclair, Chris Clemons and Bennett.
Avril is tied with Bennett for ninth on the team’s sack list, with 34.5. Added to the 39.5 he compiled in five years with Detroit, Avril ranks 75th in NFL history.
He also has forced 30 fumbles in his career — 14 of them in Seattle. Only Sinclair had more for the Hawks — 25 from 1992 to 2001 — but Avril forced them more often (.21 per game to Sinclair’s .17).
As good as he has been on the field, Avril has been awesome off it as well. He has been very active in Haiti, where his parents are from, building houses and a school. He promised a house for every sack in 2016, and he followed through with 12 houses after recording a career-high 11.5 sacks. He was named the Seahawks Man of the Year for his humanitarian deeds.
Avril has been one of the best Seahawks of the Carroll era — supporting teammates in their endeavors as well and never presenting himself in a negative light. He has been a true pro who will be missed for his leadership and great play.
He surely will make the best decision for himself, based on all of the top medical advice he can get. And if that means he returns late this season or next year, the Seahawks will be better for it.
But it sure looks like we are saying a premature goodbye to one of the best D-linemen the Hawks have had. And that’s too bad.