The Seahawks plunged into the agent market Wednesday by signing defensive end Cliff Avril, who had 9.5 sacks for Detroit last year, to a two-year contract worth $15 million that will be signed after he completes a physical exam. Multiple media sources reported the signing and ESPN.com reported the salary figure but the club made no official announcement.Avril, 26, fills the Seahawks’ most obvious need, after finishing 18th in the NFL in sacks while top pass rusher Chris Clemons underwent knee surgery. A five-year veteran from Purdue, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder was a third-round pick in the 2008 draft, 92nd overall.
The Seahawks apparently passed on higher profile group of defensive linemen such as Michael Bennett, Osi Umenyiora, Dwight Freeney, John Abraham, Israel Idonije and Matt Shaughnessy in favor of a younger player on a shorter contract.
Avril said last month he thought he might worthy of deal like the one Mario Williams obtained a year ago from Buffalo — two years at $40 million part of a six-year, $56 million deal — an aspiration that went beyond the Lions’ ability to pay.
“Anything is possible,” Avril told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I would love to get Mario’s deal. Who wouldn’t? Those are some great numbers. My thing is I want to keep getting better. I’m still young. I’m only 26 years old. The sky is the limit as far as that. Those are some great numbers, hopefully we can get somewhere near there.”
Clemons had an ACL tear during Seattle’s first-round playoff game at Washington. His backup, rookie No. 1 draft choice Bruce Irvin, was largely ineffective as a starter in the second-round game the Seahawks lost in Atlanta, 30-28.
Last year, the Lions reportedly offered $30 million over three years. Avril declined and played for a single year with the franchise tag at $10.6 million.
Avril has 16 forced fumbles in five season. Clemons has 12 in eight seasons.
Jason Jones to Detroit
Detroit found a cheaper defensive-line alternative, backup tackle Jason Jones, who was not re-signed by the Seahawks but accepted a three-year, $9.5 million deal Wednesday from the Lions.
Jones was on a one-year contract when he had three sacks and 10 total tackles in 12 games (no starts) before going on the injured reserve and having surgery for a lingering knee injury. Jones was a second-round pick by Tennessee in the 2008 draft, and was acquired by Seattle in free agency last year.
Leon Washington cut
To make room for Percy Harvin, the wide receiver/kick acquired from Minnesota Tuesday, running back/returner Leon Washington was cut.
Washington, 30, became a luxury with Harvin’s skills and rookie Robert Turbin’s progress as Marshawn Lynch’s backup.
“He did a phenomenal job here,” said Seahawk GM John Schneider. “The fans love him. He’s such a pro. He really handled himself with extreme class with Pete (Carroll) and I when we talked with him, and understood what we were doing.”
Washington said farewell on his Twitter account: “Seattle It’s Been Awesome A Ride, Got Nothing Bad 2 Say About The Gr8 NW #12thMan StandUp!!! Like always… #LetsGetIt”
Washington had 1,140 combined yards on kickoff and punt returns last season, with one touchdown. He has eight career kickoff return for touchdowns. Harvin had 574 yards and a touchdown on kickoff returns for the Vikings last season. He has five career return touchdowns.
Releasing Washington reduced his contract’s salary-cap footprint from $2.875 million to $750,000 for the coming season.