For Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, the decision to hold off on signing the franchise tender had less to do with any unhappiness about his contract status than about prioritizing a birthday party over training camp.
That would be the first birthday party of his son, Xavier, who turned 1 on Friday, and Avril says he’s glad he skipped the first week of training camp so that he could spend the week with Xavier.
“It was amazing,” Avril told MLive.com. “It’s always worth it, it’s his first birthday. He comes first and I was fortunate enough to get to spend his first birthday with him. We had a blast, took him to the museum. He didn’t care for it, but we had fun. We threw a party for him last wee and he had a blast there.”
Now that the birthday celebration is over, Avril is ready to get back to work, and ready to practice in front of Detroit fans, whom Avril is hoping will understand why he took his time about signing the franchise tender.
“I hope they don’t boo me,” Avril said. “That’s the only thing I’m hoping for honestly, but other than that, hopefully everybody is happy that the team is together.”
Avril, who joked that “soreness” is the only thing he missed from the first week of training camp, will get a salary of $10.6 million this season. Next year he’ll either become an unrestricted free agent or receive a guaranteed salary of $12.7 million if the Lions franchise him again. Which means, even though Avril didn’t get the long-term deal he was hoping for, he won’t have to worry about whether he can save enough for Xavier’s college fund.