Cliff Avril’s franchise tag may mean Stephen Tulloch is gone


To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Detroit Lions tagged Defensive End Cliff Avril with a Non-Exclusive franchise tag. The singing most likely means that Stephen Tulloch’s run as the Lions middle linebacker is probably over after only one year.

There was no way on earth that the NFL’s newest front office wizard, Martin Mayhew, was going to let a 25-year old sacking machine walk away without a king’s ransom. If you listen to Mayhew talk recently about defensive lineman, it should be no surprise that his motto in the NFL is “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of as many quality defensive lineman I can lay my hands on”. I think his value chart reads something like 1-Quarterback, 2-eight stud Defensive lineman, 3-blah, blah, blah.

The Leo’s tagged Avril to a contract that calls for him to be paid the average of the top five Defensive Ends in the league. That amounts to $10.6 million dollars for the upcoming season. The Non-Exculsive part of the deal means that he can sign with another team, as long as THAT team antes up 2 first round draft choices. The Lions will most like complete a longer term deal later this year.

Mayhew realizes that there are three free agent priorities that the Lions had to address this off season. Cliff Avril is one, and the other two are Jeff Backus and Stephen Tulloch. The best-case scenario would be to be able to sign all 3 to new contracts. Unfortunately, the fact is that All-Universe receiver Calvin Johnson is scheduled to make more than some hockey teams’ collective payroll next year and needs to be re-signed to a new deal this year if the Lions have any hope to retain all their talent. Mayhew is correct in not doing anything with Backus and Tulloch until he completes a deal with Megatron first. Once that is complete, Mayhew then can deal with Backus, who isn’t going anywhere, grateful he has a starting gig in the NFL.

The case of Stephan Tulloch is another matter. I thought he preformed pretty well last year. He was very competent, I just don’t remember at any time getting down on my knees, grateful for his presence in the middle linebacker spot last year. There is also the fact that D’Qwell Jackson of the Cleveland Browns just signed a five-year contract calling for $42.5 million dollars. Those are the numbers that it’s probably going to take to make Tulloch smile. As pedestrian as Backus is, we don’t have anyone on the roster that can replace him.

Avril had to be tagged today or we would have risked losing him for nothing. Sure, LoJack and Willie Young show promise, but Mayhew wants them ALL. Backus is the second choice, leaving Stephan Tulloch as the odd man out. The Philadelphia Eagle websites are practically planning welcome parties for Tulloch’s arrival already, so I don’t think he wants to wait around to see if the Lions have room for him after they sign Megatron to an extension.

If this plays out like I think it will, then I have another position, besides OL and CB, to consider for the Lions in the NFL upcoming Draft in the first round. You can never do enough research for the Draft.