He was designated their franchise player just a year ago but now the Detroit Lions are content to let Cliff Avril test the free agent market without so much as an offer to stay.
Chris McCosky broke down the situation beautifully on the Detroit News website this afternoon:
But as we sit here today, a week before free agency commences, there is no way the Lions are going to offer him a contract that pays anything north of $10 million per year. They may not offer him anything north of $8 million per year.
The fact the Lions aren’t having ongoing negotiations with his agent Brian Mackler this week — there has as of Tuesday only been initial contact during the NFL Scouting Combine — indicates they are willing to wait for the market to be set. And if a team comes after Avril early in the process with a multi-year deal that averages $10 million or better, the Lions are willing to let him go.
I really suggest reading the rest of the article as McCosky goes into the “why” and the “what next”, assuming Avril is indeed playing for someone else in 2013.
The picture McCosky paints makes it hard to see a scenario where Avril returns to the Lions. Think of it from Avril’s perspective. He took a chance on himself by playing under the franchise tag last year and even though he may not have performed at a level that will get him a monster deal, the Lions still aren’t making an effort to retain him even at a modest level.
Let’s say the market doesn’t yield the deal Avril wants and the best he can get from another team is something the Lions would be comfortable with. Wouldn’t we all want rather join the team that took an active role in that process rather than the passive approach of the Lions? The money might be the same but the level of love shown can be viewed as completely different.
Maybe Avril has enjoyed his time with the Lions enough that he would be willing to make the ability to stay with the familiar a tie-breaker. However, Avril hasn’t come across as someone who is looking to stay and the Lions certainly haven’t come across as having a high level of interest in trying to make sure he does. It is still possible there is a team out there that will offer more money than the Lions can or want to, but even if there isn’t, it’s hard to see this relationship continuing into next year.