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Cliff Avril still hoping for a long-term deal with Detroit Lions

DEARBORN, Mich. - When the Detroit Lions kick off their mandatory minicamp Tuesday, defensive end Cliff Avril doesn't plan to be there.

"It's mandatory if you're signed," Avril said.

The Lions put the non-exclusive franchise tag on Avril in March, effectively keeping the defensive end from hitting the market.

Another team can negotiate with Avril, but the franchise would have to be willing to give up a pair of first-round picks to sign him. The 26-year-old Avril is the only NFL player with at least 19.5 sacks, nine deflected passes, seven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries the past two years - according to STATS LLC - but he hasn't drawn much interest from another suitor because of the franchise tag.

Detroit's three-day session this week is the team's last gathering before training camp. If Avril doesn't get the long-term deal he wants by July 16, he will have a one-year deal worth $10.6 million - the average of the five highest-paid players at his position - waiting for his signature.

"To go from making the league minimum to that is not bad, but still you want a long-term deal," he said. "I feel like I was a part of this team while we were not doing so well and 0-16. I want to be a reason why we're getting better."

Avril insisted he hasn't even thought about possibly holding out when training camp starts in late July, trying to create leverage in talks.

Avril had career highs in sacks (11), forced fumbles (six) and fumble recoveries (three) last year to help Detroit snap its 11-season postseason drought.

Avril refused to say how far apart or how close the two sides were in negotiations.

"We have been talking, so that's good," he said. "We're going to continue to keep working and see if we can get something done."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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