Seattle Seahawks turn themselves into a destination with aggressive offseason moves
A busy week that included acquisitions of Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have turned the Seahawks into a destination franchise.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seven days that shaped the SeahawksFriday, March 8
9 p.m. NFL teams can begin discussions with agents of players who are becoming free agents. Percy Harvin was not becoming a free agent so this provision did not apply to him, but it was Friday night when discussions with the Vikings heated up, according to Seahawks general manager John Schneider. "We went through the weekend pretty hard," Schneider said.
Monday, March 11
Approximately 1 a.m. Schneider and coach Pete Carroll spoke to Seahawks owner Paul Allen about the transaction. Schneider then texted Harvin, who happened to be still awake and was able to join the call. "It had to be 3, 4 o'clock his time," Schneider said of Harvin. "So it was a long weekend, but obviously well worth it."
9:45 a.m. The first report that the Seahawks are in negotiations to acquire receiver Percy Harvin comes from ESPN's Adam Schefter.
10:01 a.m. The trade is finalized, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.
Tuesday, March 12
1 p.m. The NFL league year starts, and teams can begin signing players.
2:05 p.m. Seahawks announce the trade for receiver Percy Harvin. Terms of his deal are not announced, but according to a source, it is a six-year agreement worth a maximum of $67 million that replaces his previous contract, which had one season remaining for just under $3 million.
3 p.m. Harvin is introduced at Seahawks headquarters, seated on stage between Schneider and his new coach. "It's a great moment for us, and we're excited for him," Carroll said.
Wednesday, March 13
4:19 p.m. The Seahawks' agreement with Cliff Avril is first reported by Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
4:58 p.m. Avril is reached via telephone by The Seattle Times, confirming that he is en route to Seattle after reaching an agreement with the Seahawks.
Thursday, March 14
2:30 p.m. Carroll and Schneider speak on a conference call confirming the agreement with Avril on what is a two-year contract.
4:30 p.m. First report of Michael Bennett's one-year agreement with Seattle is published by profootballtalk.com.
Seattle has established itself as a destination in today's NFL.
That is the lesson to be drawn from this week's free-agent additions, a two-man coup at defensive end as Seattle signed Cliff Avril of Detroit to a two-year contract Thursday and then reached an agreement with Michael Bennett of Tampa Bay on a one-year deal.
These were two of the top pass-rushers on the market, a pair of players who had nine sacks apiece in 2012 and entered the free-agent market with champagne wishes and caviar dreams. But after the market for pass-rushers proved less lucrative than expected, those two players took a look at their respective options and decided to take short-term deals with a rising contender in Seattle that plays its home games in a cauldron of decibels that is a defensive player's dream.
"I'm happy to be here," Avril said in a conference call with Seattle-area reporters. "The reason why I chose this team is because the defense all around is pretty good. Guys are young and they're hungry."
Avril was one of the most prolific pass-rushers available on the open market, a player in his mid-20s whom Seattle signed for a two-year deal that caught almost everyone off guard.
Receiver Percy Harvin was the bigger investment both in terms of the size of his contract and the draft picks Seattle gave up to get him. That was a power-play acquisition whereas Avril's arrival took nearly everyone by surprise, including the guy who signed him.
"What happens in this process is you never know," Seattle general manager John Schneider said. "And Cliff Avril's a great example of that: You never know what's going to pop up."
This is a player who had 29 sacks over the past three years and is coming off a season in which he made $10.6 million as Detroit's franchise player. He was one of the top pass-rushers available in free agency this year along with Baltimore's Paul Kruger. But the offers were much more tepid than expected.
Kruger agreed to a five-year deal from Cleveland that totals a reported $40 million, not even half of what Mario Williams got from Buffalo last year, spanning six years with a maximum value of $100 million. It wasn't even close to what Julius Peppers got in 2010 from Chicago.
What did Avril find in the open market?
"It was off a little bit," he said.
On the second day of free agency, Avril looked at his options and chose a shorter-term deal in Seattle that leaves Chris Clemons as the Seahawks' highest-paid pass-rusher. The incentive for Avril is that a two-year agreement puts him in position to re-enter the market in 2015 when the salary cap is expected to spike up and Avril will be 28.
"It being a short-term deal," Avril said, "it was just moreso I'll be young still and gives me another chance (at free agency)."
He chose Seattle not because it offered the most money per se, but because this was a place he wanted to play and a team he felt would showcase him.
"The opportunity presented itself and I had to jump on it," Avril said.
This is a significant statement for the Seahawks.
Everyone always talks about the difficulty of luring a free agent to Seattle, citing everything from the weather to the geography of the league's most isolated outpost. Well, Avril lives in Florida, went to college at Purdue and after playing the last five years in Detroit and he chose to come to the upper lefthand corner of the country, not just because the Seahawks outpaid everyone else, but because of the total package that this team offered from contract to contention.
Success has a price in today's NFL, the reality that other teams come looking to buy a part or three off of good teams. But success has dividends, too, and Seattle suddenly finds itself in position to reap a pretty large one first with Avril and then with Bennett's decision.
Has it become a place where players want to be?
"I would hope so," coach Pete Carroll said. "I would like to think that guys can see and they can feel that we're trying to really go places with our club and we're getting better and we're a young team that's on the rise."
And its two most recent additions are two of the top pass-rushers on the open market, whose short-term contracts don't constrain the team's ability to re-sign the young nucleus assembled in the draft.
The Seahawks are now a desired destination in the NFL.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @dannyoneil