After the NFL lockout ended this past summer, the Detroit Lions had a number of personnel moves that needed to be taken care of. Although an important one was signing defensive end Cliff Avril to a long-term deal, the Lions had more pressing things to attend to at the time since Avril had a one-year tender offered and was a restricted free agent. Avril ultimately signed the tender, and the thought was that, even if a deal wasn't worked out, long-term negotiations would happen before the season.
Avril is already putting up big numbers this season and will be one of the most coveted defensive ends in the NFL if he makes it to free agency. The Lions obviously don't want that to happen, but Avril's agent says contract negotiations haven't begun just yet.
"I spoke to (team president) Tom Lewand before the season, made it clear to him that Cliff's desire -- he loves being in Detroit, wants to stay in Detroit and obviously when they're ready to start talking about contract negotiations I'm here," Mackler said. "I've known Tom for 20 years. We've done a lot of deals, and when they're ready to do something with Cliff, we're willing to listen."
The Lions signed both offensive guard Rob Sims and tight end Tony Scheffler to extensions last season, so this isn't a situation where the team doesn't deal with contract issues during the season. I'm not sure what the hold-up is with Avril's contract, but the longer the Lions wait, the more his value seems like it will go up. I think it'd be wise to lock him down as soon as possible.
(For more on Avril's contract situation, check out our interview with him from a couple weeks ago. It touches on this topic.)