The release of DE Cliff Avril, long expected after his neck injury Oct. 1 kept him out for the rest of the season, came to pass Friday when the Seahawks said he failed his physical exam. With DE Michael Bennett, traded to Philadelphia, they formed one of the premier pass-rushing duos in team history.
Both are gone from a defense that also saw the release of CB Richard Sherman. While Avril was a lower-profile, steady hand on a powerhouse defense that helped Seattle reach two Super Bowls, Sherman and Bennett were far more outspoken and brash.
The contentiousness apparently was part of the reason they are no longer in Seattle, based on an interview with coach Pete Carroll on ESPN 710 Friday morning.
Post-release, Sherman said in an interview that Carroll’s messaging had gone stale. Bennett made a similar remark in an interview after the trade when he claimed he brought a book to read during team meetings when Carroll had the floor.
“I’m not sad. I’m not surprised, though,” Carroll said of the remarks by Sherman and Bennett. “We’ve just been through so much. I know where their head is at . . . they can go from one moment to the next and see things a little bit differently, it can change for them, and they’re battling. It would be nice if they saw it differently. I see it differently than they saw it.”
Carroll pushed back on the idea that it was strictly up to him to keep things fresh.
“They have a responsibility to stay fresh, as well,” he said. “They have a responsibility to see it new. They have a responsibility to keep making this a challenge for themselves.
“I’m a teacher. I gotta help these guys learn. I gotta do whatever it takes to get that done and get the communication right. So we’re constantly tweaking, we’re constantly evolving – they need to do the same. The freshness can come from both directions, or see you later. If it isn’t the right place, go. ‘You have to go? You’re out of here.’
“That’s a point I don’t mind making – it was time for these guys to move on.”
Carroll tried to back away some from the spat.
“Regardless of what they say, I’m not gonna be that petty about it,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out how to make it come together in this new setting that they’re in, and it’s difficult on them. It’s a challenge for them too. They’re trying to find their way.
“As always, our kids make mistakes; they falter and they don’t quite pull it off like you like, and then you guide them and you help them. Somewhere down the road everything will be fine. I’m not worried about it.”
Listen in, Pete Carroll breaks down what he saw from Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp. https://t.co/LNYxgkpVeN
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) May 4, 2018
After the first practice of the three-day rookie mini-camp Friday at team headquarters, Carroll was more generous in his assessment of Avril, 32, who had 34.5 sacks in Seattle after coming from the Detroit Lions in free agency in 2013. He was a third-round draft choice in 2008.
“He’s been a great leader,” Carroll said. “He’s been a bit of a statesman for us. He always says the right thing, stands for the right stuff and been a really high character guy that you can always count on. A great competitor in the program.
“I love him and would like to keep him connected with our club as long as we can, because he’s just exactly what you hope to represent you. He’s had a great career with us.”
Avril, who posted a reminiscence of his time in Seattle on The Players’ Tribune, said he hadn’t closed the door on a return to play.
“As of right now, I’m not sure what the future holds for me,” he wrote. “A lot of people have been asking me if I’m considering retirement, and all I can really say is that I’m working closely with my doctors and that I’m going to make the best decision for myself and my family when the time is right.”
Avril’s departure means the Seahawks will save $6 million against the salary cap. That is a noteworthy help, since they began the week just $7.7 million under the cap.
Thank you 12s for making the last 5 years in Seattle so amazing! Your cheers… https://t.co/oOkAxwg1ve
— Cliff Avril (@cliffavril) May 4, 2018