Seahawks agree to deal with free-agent DE Avril

RENTON — Making a splashy addition to their offense didn’t keep the Seattle Seahawks from making another big move to address another big need, this one one defense.

Just a day after trading for receiver Percy Harvin, the Seahawks agreeed to terms on a deal with defensive end Cliff Avril, considered the top pass rusher on the free agent market. According to multiple reports, the former Detroit Lion, who turns 27 next month, agreed to a two-year deal worth $15 million.

There was some thought that after adding Harvin and signing him to a long-term deal, Seattle would have to upgrade its pass rush either through the draft or through a less expensive, older veteran option such as John Abraham or Dwight Freeney. Instead, the Seahawks made their second huge move of the week, showing more than ever that they have every intention of contending for a championship this season.

Avril is a 2008 third-round pick out of Purdue who had 29 sacks and nine forced fumbles in the past three seasons for Detroit. The Lions placed the franchise tag on Avril last year when he and the Lions could not agree to a long-term deal.

He will come to Seattle trying to upgrade a pass rush that was one of the few weaknesses on a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL last season. Seattle had 36 sacks in 2012, which tied for 18th most in the league, and 19.5 of those came from Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin. Add to that the fact that Clemons is recovering from knee surgery after tearing his ACL during the playoffs, and Seattle desperately needed to bolster its pass rush in the offseason.

“We need another pass rusher, we really do,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at his year-end press conference in January. “So we just have to keep working at it and try to get it better.”

The Seahawks likely have to prepare as if Clemons won’t be available at the start of the season, in which case Avril, a speed rusher who is somewhat similar to Clemons, could take over the Leo end position. Or if Clemons does make a quick recovery, Seattle will have three speed rushers, a luxury few teams would turn down.

Note

Free agent defensive lineman Jason Jones, who spent last season in Seattle, signed with Detroit Wednesday. Jones, who was used primarily as an interior pass rusher in nickel packages, played 12 games and had three sacks before a knee injury ended his season.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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