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Lions' Avril says free agents must 'strike gold' when possible

Detroit's Cliff Avril and Houston's Mario Williams are two of the most prominent defensive players set to become free agents this offseason. While Williams has indicated that money might not be the most important factor with regard to where he signs, Avril said Friday that he had no idea whether the Lions would apply the franchise tag to him but that he hoped not.

Avril had expressed even stronger sentiments Thursday.

"There's no such thing as a hometown discount in the NFL," Avril said in an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Once you can't play anymore, they're going to let you go, so you definitely have to strike gold when you can."

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That was after Avril had said while he would like to remain a Lion, he "know(s) it's a business, and you only hit free agency once or twice in your career, so you definitely have to take advantage of it."

Avril added that he isn't partial to any particular possible suitor, saying that he is interested in teams that would utilize him as a pass rusher.

"I kind of think the Lions will try to do the right thing, I guess," he said. "A lot of teams don't think the Lions will let me hit free agency. But a few teams have called."

Avril's agent, Brian Mackler, said Friday that talks are moving "very slowly" with the Lions.

Team president Tom Lewand declined comment Friday and general manager Martin Mayhew has said he doesn't plan to use the franchise tag.

On Friday, Avril explained to the Free Press that he has not actually had official contact with teams yet, which would be a violation of the NFL's tampering rules.

"No other teams, per se, like general managers or anybody has called me or anything like that," Avril told the newspaper. "But I know a lot of guys that I've played with or guys that have seen me play have told me that their coaches have brought me up in a sense of, 'Dang, that guy can play; wouldn't mind having him'-type thing. Never official-type things or anything like that."

Teams are prohibited from reaching out to players before March 13, when the free-agency period officially begins.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the newspaper that what Avril said was hearsay and not proof of tampering.

Avril finished his fourth season with 11 sacks, tying him at 11th in the league. He was a third-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and has 30 sacks and one interception (which he returned for a touchdown) in his career.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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