Cliff Avril is a good person and a good teammate. He's a hard worker, an excellent fit for the Lions' defensive system, and he has been moderately productive. But as we sit here today, a week before free agency commences, there is no way the Lions are going to offer him a contract that pays anything north of $10 million per year. They may not offer him anything north of $8 million per year. The fact the Lions aren't having ongoing negotiations with his agent Brian Mackler this week — there has as of Tuesday only been initial contact during the NFL Scouting Combine — indicates they are willing to wait for the market to be set. And if a team comes after Avril early in the process with a multi-year deal that averages $10 million or better, the Lions are willing to let him go. Avril turned down a three-year, $30 million offer from the Lions before last season, instead signing the $10.6 million franchise tag. At the time, the Lions praised him for "betting on himself," that he'd earn a better offer. General manager Martin Mayhew, at his postseason press conference, was asked if Avril had won his bet. He said, "I don't think the roulette table has stopped spinning yet. We don't know if he won that bet yet or not." The bet will be settled next week when teams start their bidding. But Mayhew's willingness to leave it to chance, to let others set the market, tells me what I have long suspected, going back to before last season: The Lions like Avril, but they don't view him as an elite pass rusher.
Lions may not pay Cliff Avril like an elite pass rusher
Detroit News | Mar 6