NFL: Grading the Most Meaningful Free Agent Signings

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Seattle Signs Cliff Avril

Seattle’s pass rush took a huge blow when Chris Clemons went down in the postseason, but when Cliff Avril signed with the Seahawks, the impact of the blow was negated.

Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril (92) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Avril, who has accumulated 20.5 sacks over the last two years, signed with the Seahawks on a relatively cheap deal. Seattle committed $15 million over two years to Avril, which isn’t much considering how heavily paid some defensive linemen, such as Mario Williams, are being paid.

The star pass rusher hasn’t missed a game since 2010, meaning he can stay on the field. Avril can produce on the field and fill a hole left by Clemons’ injury, a hole that cost Seattle its season. In the Divisional Round (against the Falcons), when Clemons was out, Seattle sacked Ryan a grand total of zero times.

With Avril taking up lineman and getting to the quarterbacks, that number would have definitely been higher.

Seattle has a great secondary with Richard Sherman, who was tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions, and Brandon Browner. Sherman defensed 24 passes, which was the most in the NFL, and a lot of that was because of the pass rush. Throws were hurried, and Sherman and the secondary benefited from that.

The Seahawks allowed 15.3 points per game (PPG) in 2012, best in the NFL. However, without Clemons, they allowed 30 points, showing how important a good pass rush is. Avril can make the pass rush good just by replacing Clemons effectively.

Seattle got Avril cheap, although he probably deserved more money. 20.5 sacks in two years deserves a reward, and Avril is in line for one if he keeps performing. A good pass rush helps the whole defense, and that’s certainly the case for Seattle. So, Avril will be helping out the whole defense for a relatively minimal amount of money, meaning this is a great signing for Seattle.

Grade: A