Cliff Avril is the latest player to get slapped with a franchise tag ahead of Monday afternoon’s deadline.
The Lions have used the non-exclusive version of the tag on their defensive end. It comes with a salary of about $10.6 million, a big number for the Lions as they head to an offseason that also sees linebacker Stephen Tulloch headed for free agency. The Lions were stuck with a hard choice, though, as letting Avril walk would have been just as bad, if not worse, than creating more cap headaches for themselves by using the tag.
Avril was quite vocal about his lack of interest in receiving the tag earlier this offseason so focus will now shift to whether or not he will skip offseason workouts in protest of the team’s decision. The big cap number for Avril will also increase the need to address Calvin Johnson’s contract in an attempt to shave some money off his own $22 million cap figure for the 2012 season.
If they can’t find a way to get Avril or Johnson’s numbers down before March 13th, Tulloch could leave a big hole at middle linebacker. But, to the Lions’ figuring, that hole wouldn’t be as big as the one they’d have to fill if Avril went to a different team.