It's pretty common knowledge around NFL circles that tampering goes on quite a bit. At the NFL Combine next week, for example, quite a bit of tampering is expected to take place. With so many front-office personnel and agents in one place, it's bound to happen.
Unfortunately for the Detroit Lions, the "everybody does it" defense didn't mean anything when the Kansas City Chiefs brought tampering charges against them. The NFL found the Lions guilty, and the team will only wrap up its punishment for the charge in this year's draft with the loss of a sixth-round pick.
Considering the Lions were actually charged and found guilty of tampering, I'm sure some comments from defensive end Cliff Avril raised a few eyebrows within the organization earlier this week. During an interview, Avril was asked about working out a deal to stay with the Lions before free agency begins, and he said something pretty interesting:
"I kind of think the Lions will try to do the right thing, I guess," he said. "A lot of teams don't think the Lions will let me hit free agency. But a few have called to express interest."
The last part of that quote screams that teams are tampering with Avril. Normally the Lions might look past something like that, but given what has happened in the past, I'm sure they wouldn't mind improving their draft position. And if the Kansas City Chiefs were found to be one of the teams contacting Avril, well, let's just say the Lions would likely get some revenge on them.
Given the attention this has received, Avril clarified his comments today and made it clear that teams weren't directly contacting him. Rather, he was conveying that he had heard through the grapevine that teams would be interested in him if he hits the open market.
"No other teams, per se, like general managers or anybody has called me or anything like that," Avril told the Free Press. "But I know a lot of guys that I’ve played with or guys that have seen me play have told me that their coaches have brought me up in a sense of, ‘Dang, that guy can play; wouldn’t mind having him-type thing.’ Never official-type things or anything like that."
That's a much different interpretation than I have of saying that teams "have called to express interest," but Avril likely doesn't want to make a big issue out of this. Based on his comments today, chances are it won't become one. The NFL said that Avril's comments are based on "hearsay," so it's not actual tampering.