The Lions and defensive end Cliff Avril still have quite a bit of work to do if they’re going to come to terms before the July 16 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contract extensions.
Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that Avril is asking for about $2 million a year more than the Lions are offering. Avril is looking for a four-year, $42 million deal with most of that money guaranteed, and although the Lions are engaged in talks and have offered several contract proposals, none of the proposals are enough for Avril to be willing to sign.
The good news for both sides is that everyone seems to recognize that there’s no personal acrimony even if they disagree about what a fair contract would constitute.
“I’m fortunate enough to play football for a living, first off,” Avril said. “I’m thankful for that. But I know it’s a business. I knew that from Day 1. I have to do what’s right for my family. I’m a businessman. I can’t be mad. If they lowball you, you can’t be mad, because you ask yourself, if you were them, what would you do initially? So I’m not mad. It’s not personal. I just want to be here long term.”
Avril likes Detroit well enough that he decided to stay in Detroit and work out with a personal trainer in the area during the offseason, while his teammates are working out at the team facility. Eventually, if a long-term deal can’t get worked out, he’ll sign the franchise tender and play the 2012 season at a guaranteed base salary of $10.6 million, knowing that next year he’ll either get franchised again with a pay raise of at least 20 percent, or he’ll work out a long-term deal with the Lions, or he’ll test the market as an unrestricted free agent. None of those are bad options.
So even though the team and the player are $2 million apart, one way or another things are going to work out. Avril sounds content with that.