The Detroit Lions and Cliff Avril "haven't really talked all that much," according to the veteran defensive end. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press posted some quotes from Avril, a pending free agent, in which he re-affirmed that he'd like to remain with the Lions, but that contract talks apparently have not been prevalent in recent weeks.
According to the piece, the Lions and Brian Mackler, Avril's agent, met at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but the talks haven't been ongoing since that point. It's unclear if the two sides have reached anything like an impasse, but the time is definitely running out on a deal.
If the Lions don't get Avril signed to an extension by 4 p.m. ET on March 12, when the new league year begins, then Avril will hit the open market and he'll be able to really test his value. For the past two seasons, Avril has been unable to do this. He was a restricted free agent after the lockout in 2011 and he played under the franchise tag in 2012.
Surely, Avril will be one of the more coveted players if he hits the open market. He'll likely land a big multi-year deal somewhere, and that's what he's likely looking for right now in negotiations with the Lions. Avril has said all along that he'd prefer to remain with Detroit, but it's unclear if they can pay him what he wants.
Avril said that it's all down to this week, and given that the free agency deadline is right around the corner, he's right. He's got guys like Dwight Freeney, Paul Kruger and Michael Johnson to compete with on the open market, but Avril will likely command more than any of those guys.
He did have a down year in 2012 by his standards, and that could be why the Lions are hesitant to give him that big payday. It's unlikely that teams around the league are as hesitant, though. His down year likely won't scare off potential buyers, as noted here. It will be interesting to see what happens.