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March 18, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Cliff Avril’s deal and Seattle’s salary structure

Cliff Avril

Cliff Avril

Cliff Avril’s contract provides cap flexibility
By Mike Sando, ESPN.com NFC West blog

Defensive end Cliff Avril’s deal with the Seattle Seahawks has been filed through the league’s players association, which makes it possible to take a look at the actual numbers. There’s a couple of things worth noting. It is a two-year deal structured to pay out $13 million over two years. The value of $15 million is the very top-end that were to occur if he maxed out all incentives. For comparison purposes, the number is $13 million, and this is significant because it does not exceed Chris Clemons’ deal, which he signed a year ago. That tells you two things:
1. Seattle is not planning on having Avril supplant Clemons.
If the Seahawks were planning on releasing Clemons before this season and taking the $5 million in dead money that goes along with it, Seattle wouldn’t be all that worried about where Avril’s new deal stood in comparison to Clemons’ old deal. The fact the Seahawks kept Clemons as the landmark should answer pretty unambiguously any speculation that Seattle might be moving on from Clemons. Clemons is here to stay. The only question is when he gets back from knee surgery.

2. Seattle is sticking to its value scale.
Avril has 29 sacks over the past three seasons, impressive for a player who is turning 27 and just entering the prime of his career. Clemons has 33.5 sacks over the same period of time, and while Clemons is older, the fact that it was important for Seattle to keep Clemons as its highest-paid pass rusher reflected the fact that it was using the same criteria to measure Avril as it did for Clemons. In short, that Seattle’s contract offers are determined by its internal evaluations of a players contributions and potential.

The additions of Avril and to a lesser extent Michael Bennett are going to force tough choices. There is a risk entailed in a short-term contract after all because if Avril comes to Seattle and plays like the team expects him to and he wants to, he would be in position to demand a bigger contract sooner rather than later, but by laying out Seattle’s salary-cap commitment to its pass rushers over the next three years, it’s telling:

Player 2013 salary-cap cost 2014 salary-cap cost 2015 salary-cap cost
DE Chris Clemons $8.2 million $9.7 million  
2012 signing bonus: $6.5 million
Signed through 2014
DE Cliff Avril $3.75 million $9.25 million  
2013 signing bonus: $4.5 million
Signed through 2014
DE/DT Michael Bennett $5 million*    
*Projected
Signed through 2013
DE Bruce Irvin $2.12 million $2.55 million $2.97 million
2012 signing bonus: $5,234,328
Signed through 2015

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