Lions defensive end Cliff Avril is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, and he says he’s hoping a long-term deal can get done to stay in Detroit.
But the Lions have an awful lot of money tied up in their defensive line right now, and it raises the question of how much money they can afford to give one more defensive lineman.
“There’s a lot of money in my position group,” Avril told MLive.com. “I don’t know. It might just be a financial thing. I don’t know. It’s my first time going through free agency, so I don’t really know how this thing works upstairs.”
With Avril’s fellow starting defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch scheduled to make $5 million next season, and starting defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams getting $9.25 million and $4.9 million respectively, a huge contract for Avril would give the Lions an extremely expensive defensive line.
But Lions coach Jim Schwartz sounds like he doesn’t think he can afford to lose Avril, who led the team with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles.
“It’s one thing to have double-digit sacks, but Cliff had a little bit more of an impact than just that because of the forced fumbles,” Schwartz said. “That goes hand-in-hand with getting sacks a lot of times, but Cliff has a knack for it. That gave us a big push. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to defensively, but we got a lot of turnovers and Cliff was a big part of that. Cliff was also a guy who was drafted before I got here, but we’ve developed him, he’s developed with us, he’s become a better player every year. He’s added to his arsenal every year and he’s been a hard worker. I think all those things we recognize.”
It sounds like the Lions are ready for the price to go up on their already high-priced defensive line.