Seattle — Defensive end Cliff Avril was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Friday with a failed physical designation due to a neck injury that cost him most of the 2017 season.
Avril’s release was expected and could mean the end of a 10-year career during which he was a standout player for the Seahawks and the Detroit Lions.
Avril, a former Lion, was injured in Week 4 last season while trying to chase down Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The back of Brissett’s foot caught Avril in the chin as he lunged to make the tackle. Avril was seen shaking his arms and flexing his hands after the impact.
While the play looked innocuous, Avril’s head snapped back violently and he suffered a neck injury. Avril never revealed the specific diagnosis for his injury but coach Pete Carroll repeatedly called it a serious situation. Avril had neck surgery following the season.
“Thank you 12s for making the last 5 years in Seattle so amazing!” Avril wrote in a post on Instagram . “Your cheers on Sundays are unmatched, and you guys are by far the best fans in the NFL! Most importantly, I appreciate and value the lifelong friendships I’ve made. You all have supported my family, my foundation (the Cliff Avril Family Foundation), and I throughout my entire tenure, and I could not have asked for more! THANK YOU to the entire Seahawk organization as well as my teammates. You all made me a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl Champ! I am forever grateful.”
Avril arrived in Seattle before the 2013 season and instantly helped transform the Seahawks defense into one of the best in recent memory. He was part of a rotation at first but became a full-time starter in 2014. His best season came in 2016 when Avril had a career-high 11 ½ sacks and was voted to the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career.
Avril spent five seasons in Detroit before coming to Seattle. He was a third-round pick out of Purdue and suffered through a 0-16 season in his rookie year with the Lions. He became a standout in Detroit but experienced his greatest team success in Seattle, helping the team win the Super Bowl in his first season with the Seahawks. He made a return trip to the championship game with the team the following year.
Releasing Avril will save Seattle about $6 million against the salary cap. But the Seahawks will also be faced with replacing another productive standout from a defense that had already seen the departure of Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman earlier this offseason.
Raiders sign LB Johnson
The Oakland Raiders agreed to a one-year deal with veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson to bolster the middle of their defense.
A person familiar with the move told the Associated Press the two sides agreed to a contract Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the signing had not been announced. NFL Network first reported the deal.
The 35-year-old Johnson spent his first 13 NFL seasons with the rival Kansas City Chiefs and will likely fill the role at middle linebacker that NaVorro Bowman played the second half of last season.
Johnson has been one of the better linebackers in the league during his career but was allowed to leave Kansas City earlier this offseason as the team tried to get younger.
Johnson is a four-time Pro Bowler and the career tackles leader for the Chiefs.
The Minnesota Vikings are turning off the lights at the team’s new practice facility south of Minneapolis after neighbors complained about the glow.
The Eagan building’s north side is nearly 100 feet (30.5 meters) high and lights up with the team’s Norseman logo and the words “Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center - Home of the Minnesota Vikings.”
The NFL team will turn off the lights on the north side of the building between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., said Jeff Anderson, team spokesman. The shut-off time will be moved to about midnight when the team hosts night events such as high school games.
The team is “listening to the community,” Anderson said.
The other three sides of the facility will remain lit every night, he said.
The Miami Dolphins claimed quarterback Bryce Petty a day after he was waived by the New York Jets. With Miami’s move Friday, Petty joins veterans Brock Osweiler and David Fales in the competition for the backup job behind Ryan Tannehill.
Petty spent three seasons with New York after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. He played in 10 games for the Jets, throwing for 1,353 yards and four touchdowns with 10 interceptions, and went 1-6 as a starter.
... The Panthers announced that defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller resigned following an investigation into complaints of inappropriate conduct.
... The Bills hired Dan Morgan to take over as their player personnel director.