The franchise tag deadline doesn’t come until 4 p.m. today but word came out before noon that the Lions would indeed use the franchise tag to retain Cliff Avril. Neither side wanted it to happen but Martin Mayhew previously stated that the only option worse than having to franchise tag Avril would be moving forward without him.
The point to keep in mind is that they used the non-exclusive franchise tag meaning that Avril will be able to negotiate with other NFL teams but the Lions would have the right to match the offer or receive two first-round picks. It’s not impossible that there isn’t a team out there willing to pay that price but it is steep and should allow the Lions to turn their attention elsewhere, namely towards an extension for Calvin Johnson and new deals for Stephen Tulloch, Jeff Backus and Eric Wright before they become free agents next week.
The best option remains agreeing to a long-term deal with Cliff Avril before July 15 at which time the terms of the franchise tag are locked in for the 2012 season.
The trick going forward remains cap space and using the franchise tag on Avril won’t help that situation but the Lions now have pieces of the puzzle locking into place. Fortunately, there isn’t an obvious hangup to that playing out and Avril’s agent has plenty of experience in cases like this:
And no long-term deal for now, but Avril’s agent has done multi-year deals w/David Harris, Tamba, D’Qwell w/tag in place or about to be
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 5, 2012