The closer it gets to the start of free agency, the less likely it looks that Cliff Avril will be a member of the Detroit Lions in 2013.
After designating Avril with the franchise tag last year, the Lions have not made a big effort to work towards a long-term deal this year after deciding against using the franchise tag again.
Popular opinion says the Lions would welcome Avril back, but only at a price they are comfortable with and that is very likely to be a price lower than what someone else is willing to pony up.
Teams can start talking with free agents on Saturday but the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is reporting that the Browns plan to pursue Avril, along with the Baltimore Ravens‘ Paul Kruger. From the P-D report:
Avril, a defensive end, will also be a hot ticket come Tuesday. But the Browns might have the inside track, because their new defensive line coach Joe Cullen helped draft Avril, 26, in Detroit in 2008 and developed him as a rookie. That season, Avril led all rookies with six sacks and four forced fumbles.
Franchised by the Lions last season for almost $11 million a year, Avril, the former third-round pick out of Purdue, has averaged nearly 10 sacks a year over the past three seasons, including 9.5 in 2012 and 11 in 2011. Avril (6-3, 252) could play outside linebacker in Ray Horton‘s 3-4, multi-front scheme.
The Browns would be an interesting landing spot for Avril, especially since the Lions will make a trip to Cleveland next season.