The Lions did the expected on Monday and used their franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril.
Avril expressed some displeasure about the prospect of being franchised in February, raising the possibility of a holdout. Avril focused on the positive in comments to the team’s website on Monday, however. He described himself as fortunate to get the tag while also expressing the hope that he can reach an agreement with the team on a long-term deal.
“Honestly and truthfully – at the end of the day – I’m very, very fortunate to be franchised by an NFL team,” said Avril. “I’m very blessed. That being said, being a business, you always want to do what’s best for you and your family. Being franchised – I’m blessed and I’m definitely happy about being considered a player to give that tag to. I just hope we can continue to negotiate and try to get something done.”
Nothing Avril said on Monday takes away the possibility that he could hold out of part or all the team’s offseason workouts if the long-term deal doesn’t come his way. It’s too soon to tell if that’s a likely outcome, but it certainly helps matters that it is in the best interests of the Lions to get a deal done as well.
They are tight against the cap with about $70 million in cap space tied up between Avril, Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Ndamukong Suh. They can get some relief by giving Johnson a contract extension and a new deal with Avril would also open up some money to spend in other places. Freeing up that money could be the difference between retaining linebacker Stephen Tulloch, cornerback Eric Wright and tackle Jeff Backus or watching them leave for other teams.
Still, Avril remains in Detroit and, as he said Monday, “that’s a plus.”