If the Lions are unable to reach a long-term contract extension with defensive end Cliff Avril, they are likely to use franchise tag to keep him off the unrestricted free agent market, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
“This is new to me,” Avril told Birkett. “My agent (Brian Mackler) hasn’t called me and told me anything. I mean, we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. If they franchise me, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be playing under that, because that just gives them more time to negotiate or whatnot. So we’ll see how it goes.”
A 2009 third-round pick out of Purdue, the 25-year-old Avril has 133 tackles, 30 quarterback sacks and 14 forced fumbles over the last four season, including a career-high 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2011.
Avril earned $1.634 million on his three-year rookie contract and $2.611 million in base salary under a one-year restricted free agent tender in 2011. Earlier this week, Avril stated his hope to remain with the Lions, but not on a hometown discount.
“There’s no such thing as a hometown discount in the NFL,” Avril told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. “Once you can’t play anymore, they’re going to let you go, so you definitely have to strike gold when you can…That said, if they and another team present the same thing, I’d definitely stay with the Lions.”
The franchise tag for defensive ends is projected to be worth around $10.5 million in 2012.
During his interview with SiriusXM, Avril also mentioned that other teams had expressed an interest in him, remarks that he attempted to clarify on Friday.
“No other teams, per se, like general managers or anybody has called me or anything like that,” Avril said. “But I know a lot of guys that I’ve played with or guys that have seen me play have told me that their coaches have brought me up in a sense of, ‘Dang, that guy can play; wouldn’t mind having him-type thing.’ Never official-type things or anything like that.”