Pete Carroll: Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor will have 'a hard time playing football again'

The Legion of Boom might not ever be what it once was. Free safety Earl Thomas recently told the Cowboys that he wants them to come get him when his time in Seattle ends. Cornerback Richard Sherman reportedly expressed a desire to be traded last offseason and now he's trying to recover from a ruptured Achilles. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett said after their season finale that he doesn't think he'll be brought back.

And then there's the fact that pass-rusher Cliff Avril and strong safety Kam Chancellor might not ever play football again. 

On Tuesday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN in Seattle that Avril and Chancellor, both of whom suffered season-ending neck injuries, "are going to have a hard time" playing the sport again. Though Carroll said the players will decide for themselves, he also sounded like a coach who isn't expecting to have them back in 2018.

"Cliff and Kam are going to have a hard time playing football again," Carroll said, per USA Today. "The jury's not out on that yet. They're going to decide that themselves. But it's going to be very difficult for those guys to come back and play again. That's just an indication of the kinds of things that we're going to be dealing with (this offseason)."

Avril, who joined the Seahawks in 2013, has served as a valuable and underrated pass rusher, racking up 34.5 sacks in five seasons and 6.5 sacks in the playoffs. And Chancellor has been one of the game's best strong safeties since getting drafted in the fifth round in 2010, almost always serving as a top run-stopper. If both of them are forced to retire, the Seahawks will struggle to adequately replace them.

And so, the era of the Seahawks' fearsome defense might be nearing its end. Thomas' contract expires after next season and he's already talking about his post-Seattle career. Sherman is also entering the final year of his deal. Bennett's contract is structured in such a way that the Seahawks will soon be able to cut him -- 2019 seems like the most likely year -- without suffering huge financial consequences. Maybe the Seahawks will look to trade some of them before losing them for nothing.

The changes might not be limited to the defense. Star tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught 10 red zone touchdowns in 2017, will be a free agent at the age of 31. The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta wrote on Monday that Graham is "generally considered really unlikely to be back in Seattle." Losing Graham would be a big blow to a team that is unable to run the ball in the red zone -- and anywhere else, really -- but it also makes sense given Graham's age and the team's other more-pressing needs (offensive line, still).

Changes are necessary, however. Suddenly, the power has shifted in the NFC West. The Seahawks are no longer the kings of division. The Rams are younger and better. The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo, who appears to be their quarterback savior. For all of their faults and injuries, the Cardinals finished only one game behind the 9-7 Seahawks. The Seahawks need an influx of young talent to replace their aging defensive stars that will likely be on their way out soon. They need to finally give Russell Wilson the offensive line and running game that he deserves. 

The Seahawks still have Wilson and they still have Carroll, so nobody should expect them to suddenly sink to the depths of the NFL. But nobody should be surprised if the team undergoes a complete renovation in the next couple of offseasons to shift away from a defensive-oriented team to a team that's built around Wilson. It might just be time for the Legion of Boom to end.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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