The Lions and defensive end Cliff Avril have been playing ping-pong about whose court the ball was in when it came to signing a long-term deal with the end result being that Avril won’t be at minicamp this week.
Avril confirmed his absence with the Associated Press and it isn’t much of a surprise. Minicamp attendance is not mandatory for players with franchise tags and staying away is one of the last pieces of leverage they can use for new deals before the July 16th deadline to sign a multi-year contract. Avril is well aware of that and he’s also aware that he could just sign his tender in order to get the ball rolling on a new deal.
“I could, but you have that risk of getting hurt, that risk of your value going down,” Avril said. “And, they told me to do that last year. You can’t keep doing that for the next 10 years. I wanted a deal last year too and they told me to go out and perform and we’ll try to, I guess, take care of you in a sense. It goes back to being a business. They can do whatever they want — obviously. If it was up to me, I would’ve been signed long term, I would’ve been with my team already and trying to get this Super Bowl thing running.”
There’s good news for Lions fans, too. There hasn’t been many shots fired between the two sides, Avril and the team are still talking about getting a contract done before the deadline and the defensive end offered no indication that he’s looking to hold out from training camp. All of that keeps hope alive for a happy ending for the Lions and one of their most important defensive players.