Detroit Lions  


Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions move forward after not striking deal

Andrew Weber/US Presswire
A long-term deal stayed out of Lions DE Cliff Avril's reach this offseason. Now he's focused on winning games.


Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril spent most of Monday working out, then watched the deadline for franchise-tagged players to receive long-term deals come and go without achieving what he has spent this offseason working on.

Avril will sign his $10.6 million franchise tender. Eventually. But without his financial situation resolved, it's unclear when. And as long as that tender is unsigned, Avril won't be in training camp with his Lions teammates.

For now, Avril's concern is avoiding the risk of injury, with the possibility of free agency in 2013 looming.

"I mean, that's definitely the thought process now," he said over the phone Monday afternoon, shortly after the 4 p.m. ET deadline had passed. "I have to sit down with my agent. But there's a good chance I won't be there on the first day (of training camp). I just have to figure out how long we're going to wait."

To be clear, Avril doesn't plan to let this linger into the season. When asked directly if he's planning to play all 16 games, he said, "Yeah, definitely." And, he added, "If we get 19 games, even better," referencing the number of games the Lions would have to play to reach Super Bowl XLVII.

The Lions' final offer, according to sources with direct knowledge of the process, was worth $30 million over three years, with $20 million guaranteed. Avril wouldn't comment on that. But it's easy to see why taking the $10.6 million now, with an eye toward seeking a long-term deal in 2013 at age 26, makes sense. As an example of what could be out there, Avril can look to the five-year, $55 million deal (with $31 million guaranteed) given to Calais Campbell by the Arizona Cardinals.

And it's also clear that Avril isn't closing the door on sticking with the Lions long term.

"We were close, I thought we should've gotten it done, we could've gotten it done, but we didn't," he said. "They were firm on what they believed in, we were firm on what we believed in, what the market would bear. We couldn't get it done, but I definitely want to be with the Lions."

Avril spent the spring lining up his workouts to match what he'd have been doing with his teammates, and he stayed in touch with guys at the facility to keep up with what was going on there.

Bottom line: Avril is still invested in a program he has seen grow exponentially in his four years.

"I was on the 0-16 team, so it'd be amazing to be part of a big winning streak here, or a Super Bowl champion(ship)," he said. "It'd be a great ending to something that started so bad. But sometimes the business aspects of this league don't allow those stories to be told, because of the financial side of this. I would love to be here."

That said, he also understands how it works.

"This has just reiterated to me that the NFL is a business," Avril said. "I've known that ... This shows what it is. This is what you're here for, what you have to deal with. So I gotta play this year out and see how it goes."

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.



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