Cliff Avril: Seahawks and Clowney ‘need each other’ for 2020
The Seahawks have been active this offseason in their attempt to improve their pass rush, which was one of the worst in the NFL last year, but there’s still a chance that the team can add to it going forward.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider has made it clear that, even after signing two defensive ends in free agency and drafting two defensive ends in last week’s draft, that Seattle could bring back defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who remains unsigned over a month into free agency. With the Seahawks clearing over $12 million in cap space by releasing center Justin Britt and guard D.J. Fluker, there’s a thought that the team is gearing up to bring Clowney back for 2020.
Cliff Avril, a former Seahawks defensive end who won a Super Bowl with Seattle in 2013, believes a reunion should happen.
“I think they need to bring him back,” Avril told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore. “I also thin the pickups they’ve had this offseason through free agency and also the draft (showed) that (pass rush) was an area of concern, right?”
The Seahawks signed two former players in Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, both of whom were Avril’s teammates in Seattle on that Super Bowl team. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed re-signed with the team, and Seattle used a second-round pick on Darrell Taylor and a fifth-round pick on Alton Robinson. But those guys aren’t Clowney.
“Clowney is just one of those players where he just takes over games. We’ve seen that,” Avril said. “There were a couple games last year where he can just flat-out take over games and I think they should bring him back for another year. I think it’s in his best interest to come back for another year.”
This offseason is unlike any we’ve seen before as sports and life in general is on a bit of a pause due to the coronavirus. Some offseason activities will be held virtually and free agents haven’t been able to travel and visit teams. That’s been harmful to Clowney, who had core surgery after the season and has a decent injury history since entering the NFL. Combine that with the fact that he’s never developed into a double-digit-sack pass rusher and it’s easy to see why his market hasn’t developed much this offseason.
With there being question marks about practices and whatnot going forward, Avril says Clowney may be best served by coming back to the Seahawks for 2020, especially since he’s likely only going to get a one-year deal.
“You might as well go back to a team where you know the defense, know the coaches, know the scheme to give yourself the best possibility to be productive,” Avril said. “I think both sides need each other in this particular space right now and they definitely need to try and get him.”
And while Clowney has never been a had 10 or more sacks in a season, Avril still thinks he’s a top defensive end in the NFL because of how he’s able to impact games.
“I say this all the time when I’m talking about him. Last year was probably the most impressive three-sack season I’ve ever seen from somebody,” he said. “The man only had 3 sacks but when you turn on the film, it’s like ‘wait up, he only had 3 sacks as aggressive and disruptive as he was on that front?’ He is disruptive in the run game, he is disruptive in the passing game, it’s just finishing. That’s the issue with him because he’s never been a 10-sack guy, and yet people love him (and) people want him on (their) team outside of this year, obviously, with free agency.”
Avril thinks that even though Clowney doesn’t get a bunch of sacks, his ability to make life hard for offensive linemen, quarterbacks and running backs makes him more valuable than a pass-rush specialist.
“Of course everyone loves sacks, but a coach would prefer a guy who gets you 8 sacks and 45 hits and hurries over a season than a guy that gets you 12 sacks and 15 hits and hurries because you’re not necessarily that productive,” he said. “… Those are the things I look for as a defensive lineman. Guys who get hits on quarterbacks (and) apply pressure all the time, that’s batting balls down. Just putting their footprint on games outside of sacks.”
Listen to the full interview with Avril at this link or in the player below.