Posted by Michael David Smith on May 24, 2012, 10:56 AM EDT
The Lions and defensive end Cliff Avril still have quite a bit of work to do if they’re going to come to terms before the July 16 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contract extensions.
Albert Breer of NFL Network reports thatAvril is asking for about $2 million a year more than the Lions are offering. Avril is looking for a four-year, $42 million deal with most of that money guaranteed, and although the Lions are engaged in talks and have offered several contract proposals, none of the proposals are enough for Avril to be willing to sign.
The good news for both sides is that everyone seems to recognize that there’s no personal acrimony even if they disagree about what a fair contract would constitute.
“I’m fortunate enough to play football for a living, first off,” Avril said. “I’m thankful for that. But I know it’s a business. I knew that from Day 1. I have to do what’s right for my family. I’m a businessman. I can’t be mad. If they lowball you, you can’t be mad, because you ask yourself, if you were them, what would you do initially? So I’m not mad. It’s not personal. I just want to be here long term.”
Avril likes Detroit well enough that he decided to stay in Detroit and work out with a personal trainer in the area during the offseason, while his teammates are working out at the team facility. Eventually, if a long-term deal can’t get worked out, he’ll sign the franchise tender and play the 2012 season at a guaranteed base salary of $10.6 million, knowing that next year he’ll either get franchised again with a pay raise of at least 20 percent, or he’ll work out a long-term deal with the Lions, or he’ll test the market as an unrestricted free agent. None of those are bad options.
So even though the team and the player are $2 million apart, one way or another things are going to work out. Avril sounds content with that.
Avril is a big part of what the Lions do defensively. He is a very good fit for their wide nine scheme with his quick first step and his overall athleticism. However, I think he is well aware of that fact that he is in the best place, for the success of his career. I don't see the Lions paying much more than this offer for him with guys like Willie Young, Lawrence Jackson, Everette Brown, and Ronnell Lewis waiting in the wings for playing time. Ultimately I expect them to met somewhere above where they are at now, and he will continue to produce in this system.