So, how do you celebrate trading for Percy Harvin, one of the top young playmakers in the NFL, on the eve of free agency? If you're John Schneider, you take a victory lap by signing one of the top pass rushers on the market, DE Cliff Avril.
DT Ndamukong Suh soaks up most of the media attention in Detrot, but to my eye Avril and DT Nick Fairley were the real linchpins on the 2012 Lions' defensive line. Avril hasn't missed a game since 2010, he's averaged 9.83 sacks per season for the last three years, and at the age of 26 he's still in his prime. Signing a free agent with all of that going for him usually requires a fat contract, but he signed with the Seahawks for a surprisingly affordable two year, $15 million deal.
To be fair to the man, earlier reports about him wanting "Mario Williams money" were blown out of proportion (here's his explanation, courtesy of Pro Football Talk: "“The guy asked me, ‘Mario made this amount of money, is that something [you'd want]?’ I’m like, ‘Shoot, wouldn’t you want it? Who wouldn’t want that deal?’ But people take it further than that.”). Still, an average of $7.5 mil per season is a step down from the $10 million he would have averaged if he had accepted the 3 year, $30 million contract offered to him by the Lions.
Really, this contract looks less like a Seattle team scrambling desperately to shore up its pass rush in the wake of star DE Chris Clemons' ACL tear in the playoffs and more like a good player taking a modest deal so he can play for a strong team. You know, like all those enviably affordable contracts to which the Patriots have been signing guys for years now. In short, this deal is awesome on several levels.