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Cliff Avril has ball in his court, Lions exec says

Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril still has not signed his $10.605 million franchise tender and has skipped the team's voluntary workout program. He's also unlikely to attend next week's mandatory minicamp.

Avril and the Lions have until July 15 to reach a multi-year extension, but they do not appear to be any closer to doing so.

Lions president Tom Lewand says "the ball's in (Avril's) court," according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. As far as an extension, NFL.com's Albert Breer reported last month that the two sides are $2 million per year apart in talks. In terms of a four- or five-year extension, that's a gap of $8 million to $10 million in total dollars that needs to be bridged by the middle of next month for deal to be reached this year.

Avril's camp likely was emboldened by the $11 million per year extension that franchised defensive end Calais Campbell received from the Arizona Cardinals last month. Campbell and Avril both entered the league in 2008, and Avril has more sacks (30.5 to 21) and forced fumbles (14 to four) than Campbell over that time. Avril also had a career-high 11 sacks in 2011, and both players will be 26 years old when the 2012 season begins.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said the contract stalemate won't change how they feel about Avril as a player.

"There's one thing that's been consistent with what's been going on is that that's a business decision," Schwartz said, via the Free Press. "It's from the Lions standpoint, from putting the franchise tag on him, to his standpoint of not signing the tender and trying to work on a long-term deal. ... None of that changes the way we feel about Cliff or his long-term future in our club, whether it's OTAs right now or minicamp.

"We know he's working hard. We'd like to have him working back out here, but business is business, and as soon as we can we'll welcome him right back. And hopefully we'll be able to pick up right where we left off, and continue to develop not just personally but within our scheme and make a lot of the big plays that he's made for us."

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