Cliff Avril has a huge payday looming, there is no doubt about that. What remains in doubt is whether or not it will be the Detroit Lions giving him that payday.
Whatever happens, Avril made it abundantly clear today that Detroit won’t get his services for any cheaper than what the highest competing team is willing to pay. Avril’s comments were made to Rich Gannon and Adam Schein on SiriusXM NFL Radio and covered by the Detroit Free Press. While these comments by no means indicate that Avril won’t be back, they definitely indicate that Avril and his agent don’t have a set dollar figure in mind and that they plan to test the market and at the very least drive up his asking price.
On the plus side for Lions fans, Avril did indicate that most teams believe the Lions won’t let him go (infer franchise tag) and that even if he is offered a contract by another team he will accept the same offer from the Lions. Apparently Avril is also being told that he would be a fit in the Patriots system, but has no preference on where he plays other than Detroit being his first.
To me, this is an indication that Avril could be all but gone unless two things happen quickly. Some high priced veterans are cut or traded (Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nate Burleson and Corey Williams) or some enormous contracts are reworked (Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Matt Stafford). Don’t be suprised if a scenario I highlighted earlier pans out where the Lions let Avril leave and focus on a Willie Young/Lawerence Jackson rotation to replace him while working on the lineback core, secondary and offensive line. While it’s not ideal, it wouldn’t be the biggest production drop-off in the world and would save the Lions a ton of cap space.
After a highly entertaining and successful regular season, the Lions pending cap nightmare is quickly becoming the story of the offseason. I have enough faith in Tom Lewand to work his advanced degree in capology, however finding any scenario where the Lions can keep Cliff Avril without losing current–or adding additional–talent will put Lewand’s talents to the ultimate test. Hold on Lions fans, it’s gonna get bumpy.
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