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Lions taking a risk letting Avril approach free agency

Cliff Avril AP

Letting defensive end Cliff Avril walk into free agency is as risky for the Lions as his playing under a one-year deal was for his future earnings this year.

So with many big-money decisions on deck in Detroit, it’s hard to tell right now which side won the gamble.

“I don’t think the roulette table has stopped spinning yet,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I don’t know if he won the bet yet or not. That’s a good question for him, though. But it’s not over yet. We’ll find out kind of where he is.”

Mayhew said immediately after the season he wouldn’t be using the franchise tag on Avril, who played under the $10.6 million tag last year. And with a snug salary cap situation and a lot of pending free agents, the Lions may not be able to do a long-term deal sufficient to his desires.

Avril turned down a three-year, $30 million offer last offseason, thinking he’d be able to trade up this year. While his sack numbers declined for the first time in his five NFL seasons, he still had 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, enough to make him quite rich in an open market.

Mayhew said that the combination of a pinched nerve in Avril’s back and the 4-12 Lions’ lack of leads and pass-rushing opportunities combined to depress Avril’s numbers.

“We didn’t play with a lot of leads,” Mayhew said. “We played with some leads last year, so we had some opportunities really to tee off and get our pass rush going, where everybody can just cut loose and just go. We didn’t have as many of those. That may have been a reason for some of the decline in sacks and quarterback fumbles.”

Avril has said the things nearly every free agent says about wanting to stay with his current team, but it’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be a healthy market for him.

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29 Responses to “Lions taking a risk letting Avril approach free agency”
  1. citynative says: Jan 15, 2013 1:49 PM

    Didn’t Lions fans tell the football world how good they were going to be this year? Oops.

  2. essentialsausage says: Jan 15, 2013 1:50 PM

    Good, Avril isn’t worth the money he wants.

  3. thekiy says: Jan 15, 2013 1:54 PM

    What risk? Let him go! He’s playing next to studs like Suh, Williams and Fairley and can’t generate any sort of consistent pressure.

    Let him go, draft Moore or Werner at pick #5. High fives all around.

  4. gosuhgo says: Jan 15, 2013 1:58 PM

    When you’re playing next to a pair of top-10 DTs for most of the season you should probably get more than 9 sacks. This guy wouldn’t really be on anyone’s radar without Suh so I don’t see how his ego got so big as to turn down 10 mil a year. It’s like Titus Young playing next to CJ thinking he’s good when he’s across from elite talent like that.

  5. lionfan419 says: Jan 15, 2013 1:59 PM

    Baltimores LB said Avril is just a gimmick…haah

  6. hurrayforyogapants says: Jan 15, 2013 2:03 PM

    On the right team, his performance would excel again. I hope he doesn’t sign with the Packers. My Vikes don’t need that.

  7. skids48 says: Jan 15, 2013 2:04 PM

    Avril is greatly overrated and he showed it with his play this year. He didn’t play well at all. Let him walk, he’s not worth the money.

  8. rickastleydancemoves says: Jan 15, 2013 2:05 PM

    I can’t help but think Ray Edwards 2.0 Pretty much the exact same situation too. Ray Edwards was a product of playing on a D-Line that included 2 All Pros: Jared Allen & Kevin Williams and a Pro Bowler Pat Williams. After he went to Atlanta it was proven he was not as good as people thought. He was not the game changing D- line anchor that he was paid to be. I see a similar fate with Avril. He plays on a line with 2 stud defensive tackles that allow him to have plenty of 1 on 1 opportunities. If he goes to a team that doesn’t have a good interior line, he could have a hard time getting to double digits and playing the run is not his strong suit. He is a wide 9 finesse speed rusher.

  9. mlenenski says: Jan 15, 2013 2:10 PM

    Didn’t Pete Carroll just say he wants to improve their pass rush?

  10. nygiantstones says: Jan 15, 2013 2:10 PM

    I don’t know why Mayhew uses the excuse that the Lions didn’t play with a lot of leads so Avril’s sack numbers were down. That pretty much describes the previous 3 seasons to their season 2 years ago but Avril had good numbers in those seasons.

  11. redruckus81 says: Jan 15, 2013 2:16 PM

    Will hate to see him go but Avril is not close to worth what he is looking for. I cant believe he turned down the 3 year offer the Lions made last offseason. Avril is who he is… a complimentary DE who can sometimes beat single blocking from a RT. Its who he has always been and the only difference between now and his rookie year is playing time and better talent around him.

  12. hoops737 says: Jan 15, 2013 2:20 PM

    “gosuhgo says:
    Jan 15, 2013 1:58 PM
    When you’re playing next to a pair of top-10 DTs for most of the season you should probably get more than 9 sacks. This guy wouldn’t really be on anyone’s radar without Suh so I don’t see how his ego got so big as to turn down 10 mil a year. It’s like Titus Young playing next to CJ thinking he’s good when he’s across from elite talent like that.”

    Fairley is a top 10 DT? Since when? Delusional Lioness fans…

  13. isphet71 says: Jan 15, 2013 2:21 PM

    If Avril does go somewhere and plays great, you HAVE to blame either coaching or scheme, because the dude has had all kinds of inside talent helping him out.

    I just can’t see that happening, though. He has exactly one rush move, and that is to run wide and outside – almost always too wide or outside, missing the QB while doing laps around the pocket.

  14. charlesanakin says: Jan 15, 2013 2:24 PM

    Abril’s a bum. As a Lions fan I’ll be thrilled to see some other team overpay him. He consistently gets blocked by TE’s in the run game, his tackles are low and most of his sacks come from cleaning up someone else’s pressure. Good riddance. Use that money to resign Delmas, Levy, Sammie Lee Hill, Willie Young and LoJack. $10m ought to get them all.

  15. Stupid Lions Fan says: Jan 15, 2013 2:33 PM

    No we are not. Another team can have that guy if they want to pay an average DE 11-13M a year. Not worth that all-star money AT ALL.

  16. purpleguy says: Jan 15, 2013 2:33 PM

    The Lions cap situation combined with the FA money available in the market for pass rushers means he’s gone.

  17. hyzers says: Jan 15, 2013 2:41 PM

    Fairley is a top 10 DT? Since when? Delusional Lioness fans…

    —————————————————–

    Name 9 that are better. We’ll be waiting.

  18. charlesanakin says: Jan 15, 2013 2:51 PM

    Look at the stats. 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF and a FR. That makes a top 10 DT.

  19. hoops737 says: Jan 15, 2013 3:10 PM

    hyzers says:
    Jan 15, 2013 2:41 PM
    Fairley is a top 10 DT? Since when? Delusional Lioness fans…

    —————————————————–

    Name 9 that are better. We’ll be waiting.

    ———————–

    In no particular order…

    Wilfork, Ngata, Dockett, Suh, Ratliff, Atkins/Peko (take your pick), Raji, Mebane, Garay, Canty, Okoye, Soliai, Hampton (when healthy), Branch, Dareus, Kevin Williams,

    Done. Easily done…

  20. hoops737 says: Jan 15, 2013 3:45 PM

    Forgot Gerald McCoy as well

  21. charlesanakin says: Jan 15, 2013 3:51 PM

    I’ll give you Ngata, Wilfork, Suh, Atkins and Dockett (but he’s a 3-4 DE not DT). Peko, Soliai and Dareus you can make an argument for. Raji, Mebane, Ratliff and Canty are nice players but not better. Hampton and Williams used to be good but are over the hill. You must be joking with Branch and Garay and I am pretty sure that Okoye was actually cut this year. At best you came up with 7.

  22. charlesanakin says: Jan 15, 2013 4:04 PM

    McCoy- 30 tackles, 5 sacks, 1FF and 1FR
    Fairley- 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2FF and 1FR

    Numbers don’t lie bro. McCoy doesn’t have an edge in any category. Fairley did his in two less games.

  23. hoops737 says: Jan 15, 2013 4:12 PM

    Dockett listed as DT in yahoo! sports

  24. hoops737 says: Jan 15, 2013 4:27 PM

    charlesanakin says:
    Jan 15, 2013 4:04 PM
    McCoy- 30 tackles, 5 sacks, 1FF and 1FR
    Fairley- 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2FF and 1FR

    Numbers don’t lie bro. McCoy doesn’t have an edge in any category. Fairley did his in two less games.

    To use your own argument against you…”playing with one of the best DT’s in the league (Suh)”

  25. charlesanakin says: Jan 15, 2013 5:27 PM

    That wasn’t my arguement. My arguement was that Fairleys better than McCoy and the numbers support that. The Lions are bad enough without the haters. But they do have the best WR in all of football and two top 10 DT’s.

  26. charlesanakin says: Jan 15, 2013 5:31 PM

    Justin Smith made the pro bowl at DT but he plays DE in a 3-4 defense as does Raji, Dockett and others. Don’t take Yahoos word for it, watch a game.

  27. weaselpuppy says: Jan 15, 2013 5:43 PM

    Pro Football Focus has Fairley ahead of Melton and K Williams and in their Top 1o.

    That said, Avril is only worth big money about 2 games a year on average, and no games this year. When he can sack/FF, like he did 6 times in 2011, he’s worth it…notsomuch this year.

    Someone will pay him 3/30 and he’ll be impactful in spurts. The Lions won’t be that someone, as they are in cap jail big time.

  28. hornyak2012 says: Jan 15, 2013 10:05 PM

    Any DE playing next to Suh should have double-digit sacks… Avril is average at best. Let him walk!

  29. toledolions says: Jan 15, 2013 11:02 PM

    There’s no risk whatsoever. Avril’s garbage! He gets garbage cleanup sacks because of the interior rush pushing the QB back, and even then he misses more than half the time. He only has one weak move which is an outside speed rush 15 yards up-field, with no inside moves at all. And he is TERRIBLE against the run, one of the worst against the run I think I’ve ever seen.

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