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Cliff Avril betting on long-term deal from Detroit Lions

Round 2: Cliff Avril vs. Detroit Lions

The defensive end held out last offseason as a restricted free agent. He wanted a lucrative long-term deal, but the Lions topped out at three years and $30 million. Avril decided to gamble on himself and eventually signed a $10.6 million franchise tender with the hope of earning that desired payday in 2013 -- from the Lions or another team.

Well, Avril finished with 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles after a career-high 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2011.


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"I don't think the roulette table has stopped spinning yet," general manager Martin Mayhew said this month to the Detroit Free Press. "I don't know if he won the bet yet or not. That's a good question for him, though. But it's not over yet. We'll find out kind of where he is."

Avril wasn't the threat in 2012 that he was in 2011, but he also played with a pinched nerve and the Lions weren't position in the second halves of games where the defensive line could just pin its ears back.

Things haven't changed much in a year. Avril, 26, is still a young, speed-defensive end with much promise. The Lions have some cap magic to make and both Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh are due for long, expensive deals within the next two seasons. Mayhew said he doesn't plan to use the franchise tag in 2013.

The two sides haven't gotten closer after all this time and it's hard to imagine an agreement before Avril hits the open market. Maybe he'll get the cash and years from someone else. Maybe the market will prove the Lions were in the right ballpark. Either way, young pass rushers aren't exactly roaming the streets.

Here's betting both sides will still be gambling on themselves when free agency opens March 12.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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