DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Defensive lineman Cliff Avril #92 of the Detroit Lions reacts in the first half while taking on the Green Bay Packers during the Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field on November 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Lions Free Agency 2012: Cliff Avril Staying In Detroit With Franchise Tag

The Lions elected to use the franchise tag on Cliff Avril, which was widely expected. The two sides continue to talk about a long-term deal.

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Lions Free Agency 2012: Detroit Needs Secondary Help

The Detroit Lions' offense exploded in 2011 as Matthew Stafford threw 41 touchdowns and for over 5,000 yards on the way to a 10-6 record and the team's first playoff berth since 1999. There were still noticeable holes in the team's depth chart, especially after running back Jahvid Best went out with an injury, but for the most part, the Lions are in good shape, especially on offense.

When it comes to players potentially leaving the Motor City, linebacker Stephen Tulloch tops the list. Defensive end Cliff Avril was set to be a free agent as well but the team predictably used their franchise tag to keep him around. Other free agents include Erik Coleman, Kevin Smith and Eric Wright.

The biggest need for the Lions may be in the secondary, where major holes were exposed against good passing teams in 2011, especially when Matt Flynn managed to throw six touchdown passes against the group. Cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr could be good editions to help shore up the team's passing defense. The Lions don't have a lot of money to spend, but they do have enough to grab one of these two guys.

For more free agency updates, head to SB Nation's Loins blog, Pride of Detroit.


Cliff Avril Hit With Franchise Tag; Lions Want Long-Term Deal

From the no-brainer department, the Detroit Lions used the franchise tag on Cliff Avril, which was expected. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news, and Avril will now be paid $10.6 million on a one-year contract for the 2012 season.

The two sides continue to negotiate on a long-term deal to keep Avril from going anywhere. They have until July 15 to come up with a deal or else Avril has to play the year on the franchise tender. Avril previously indicated he wouldn't be giving the Lions a hometown discount, so it will likely be expensive to keep him for an extended time.

Avril has shined on a defensive line full of stars. He was originally a third-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft and comes off his best year as a pro with 11 sacks. The Lions defensive line is scary, and keeping Avril should continue that. He's only 25 years old, so he could be just getting started.

For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit or visit SB Nation Detroit.


Cliff Avril, Lions Continue Negotiating Before Franchise Tag Deadline

The Detroit Lions are in heavy negotiations with pending free agent defensive end Cliff Avril to come to terms on a new contract before the franchise deadline. The team was in negotiations for the majority of the day on Sunday with Avril's agent, according to a report by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Avril is coming off the best season of his young career with 11 sacks in 2011, improving his sack total in every season since he was drafted by the Lions in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Lions hope to reach an agreement prior to the 4 p.m. ET franchise tag deadline on Monday.

For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit or visit SB Nation Detroit.


Cliff Avril's Franchise Tag From Lions Is Coming Soon

The Detroit Lions were going to do everything they could to retain defensive end Cliff Avril for the 2012 season. Avril was set to become an unrestricted agent and was eager to test the waters of the open market. The Lions, for their part, were hoping to be able to work out a contract extension prior to Monday's deadline date for applying a franchise tag to a player. Now, it seems as though Avril will be tagged to keep him in Detroit for the next year.

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Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times reported on Friday that unless a contract breakthrough occurs over the weekend, the Lions plan to place the franchise tag on Avril on Monday. The tag for Avril would carry with it a $10.6 million salary. The Lions would have the 2012 offseason to attempt to negotiate a contract extension with their star DE.

For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit or visit SB Nation Detroit.


Cliff Avril, Lions Will Continue Contract Talks; Franchise Tag Likely

Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril was a big part of the dominant defense that powered the team to the playoffs in 2011. Avril is an impending free agent, so the team will have to make a decision on whether to affix the franchise tag to him if they are unable to work out a contract extension by the March 5 franchise tag deadline.

Avril previously said there is no such thing as a "hometown discount" in contract talks and seemed eager to test out the open market. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that the two sides are expected to meet on Saturday and that no decision has been made regarding the franchise tag option.

[Lions GM, Martin] Mayhew said he hasn't taken offense to comments by Avril that he could hold out if the franchise tag is applied.

The tag guarantees Avril a one-year deal at premium salary of the top five defensive ends in the league, but restricts his movement on the open market.

"Whatever happens with Cliff, it's a business decision," Mayhew said. "If we were to franchise him and he were to hold out than that's a business decision that Cliff made, he thinks that's the best thing for him. I respect his ability to handle his business."

Mayhew said Avril's future and the Lions' ability to get deals done with some of their other free agents - starters Stephen Tulloch, Eric Wright and Jeff Backus will be unrestricted free agents without new deals by March 13 - does not hinge on working out a new deal with receiver Calvin Johnson.

The idea for the Lions is to get both Avril and Johnson back in the most cost-effective way for 2012. It remains to be seen whether that will include franchising Avril.

For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit.


Free Agent Cliff Avril: No 'Hometown Discounts' For Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions rode their terrific defense to a playoff spot in 2011, but the team is in danger of losing one of their key components to free agency before next season kicks off.

According to James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press, defensive end Cliff Avril appears to be eager to test the waters of free agency. Avril appeared on Sirius XM on Thursday and appears to be aware that he is considered one of the top men at his position who is slated to become a free agent this offseason.

I just want to be paid as one of the guys that's helping the team grow. I want to be there. We have a young D-line. But I know it's a business, and you only hit free agency once or twice in your career, so you definitely have to take advantage of it.

There's no such thing as a hometown discount in the NFL. Once you can't play anymore, they're going to let you go, so you definitely have to strike gold when you can.

Although Avril is being pragmatic regarding both his and the team's situation, he did comment that if it were a tiebreak situation, he would give the nod to Detroit.

That said, if they and another team present the same thing, I'd definitely stay with the Lions.

Lions fans will certainly be hoping that the team will be able to entice Avril to stay, but there is a very real chance that a team in need of a defensive boost has more cap room and more to offer during the offseason.

For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit.


NFL Free Agency 2012: Cortland Finnegan Drawing Interest From Detroit Lions

Tennessee Titans free agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan is drawing interest from teams, including the Detroit Lions according to a report.


Lions Free Agency 2012: Detroit Could Lose Tons Of Offensive Depth

The Detroit Lions were one of the few teams that knew exactly where they stood once their season was over. None of their wins came against teams with winning records and none of their losses came against anyone with a losing record. The Lions gave and took everything they should have on their way to a 10-6 record and a first-round playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The season defined Detroit as a team on the precipice of truly becoming good. That is to say, a team that can be expected to compete for a playoff bid on a yearly basis and perhaps make a legitimate run every once in a while. This offseason will be critical if they hope to pull themselves out of the basement for good. Key will be maintaining depth on offense. Jahvid Best and Matthew Stafford have yet to make it one full season without missing time due to injury, making the potential loss of both backup quarterbacks and three running backs somewhat scary.

Defensive end Cliff Avril is also set to hit the market, though there is a good chance that the Lions will opt to use their franchise tag on him. Here is the full list of impending Broncos free agents, courtesy of Mac's Football Blog.

Restricted Free Agents (4)

OT Corey Hilliard
DT Sammie Lee Hill
LB DeAndre Levy
LB Ashlee Palmer

Unrestricted Free Agents (20)

QB Shaun Hill
QB Drew Stanton
RB Jerome Harrison
RB Maurice Morris
RB Kevin Smith
WR Rashied Davis
WR Maurice Stovall
OT Jeff Backus
OG Leonard Davis
DE Cliff Avril
DT Andre Fluellen
LB Bobby Carpenter
LB Isaiah Ekejiuba
LB Stephen Tulloch
CB Brandon McDonald
CB Eric Wright
S Erik Coleman
S Chris Harris
P Ben Graham
LS Don Muhlbach

For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit.

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