Lions defensive end Cliff Avril grew up near Jacksonville, and he’s playing his first game in his hometown of his pro career today.
Where he calls home next year is very much up in the air.
The Lions kept him this year with the franchise tag of $10.6 million, after failing to agree on a long-term deal.
That’s set up him for the jokes of teammates, who tease him about what he’s worth.
“Not much right now,” Avril said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I only got 4 1/2 sacks.
“I don’t know. If I do what I want to do, I’m still young. … I really don’t know. We’ll see when that comes around. Like I said, I don’t really think about it too much. Cliff is just trying to collect these checks now and get sacks.”
Cliff needs to collect a few more sacks if Cliff wants to get paid the way Cliff thinks he deserves to be.
At 26 years old, Avril’s still got plenty of potential player, even if his pace is off last year’s 11.0 sacks. But the Lions might not be able to afford him, considering the big deals they’ve already signed and need to sign.
They offered him a three-year deal worth around $30 million, and he’ll almost certainly do better than that on the open market.
“As coaches we always evaluate, is a player level, is a player declining, is a player ascending, and Cliff’s definitely an ascending player,” Lions defensive line coach Kris Kocurek said. “He’s got a lot of big plays ahead of him.”
For whom Cliff makes those plays remains to be seen.