July 27, 2012; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) speaks with the media after training camp at the Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions Year In Review: March

With Cliff Avril and the Detroit Lions not able to come to an agreement on a new long-term deal, the Lions were forced to place the franchise tag on Avril to ensure he would be a member of their 2012 sqaud. It wasn’t the path either side wanted to take, but it gave the Lions some security as contact talks progressed.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson were coming off big seasons and that led both to be considered for the cover of the next Madden video game. Calvin beat his teammate in the first round of fan voting then smashed Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe in the second.

Photo from Tim Twentyman via twitter (@ttwentyman)

It also led to a monster contract extension for Calvin Johnson that made him one not only the highest paid wide receiver in the league, but one of the highest paid regardless of position. The new contract was an important step in the Lions’ offseason plans as it gave them some salary cap flexibility that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.

That allowed the Lions to look at a wide range of free agents and retain their key free agents like Shaun Hill, Jeff Backus and perhaps most importantly, Stephen Tulloch.

The Lions lost Eric Wright in free agency but showed some interest in Asante Samuel. But the focus turned to the NFL draft and Jim Schwartz took a trip to Oregon to check out running back LaMichael James before hosting him at the Lions’ training facility. Was it all just a smokescreen or did the Lions have serious plans at drafting James?

Tags: Detroit Lions

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