It is apparently Cliff Avril day here on Pride of Detroit.
Free agency is a few weeks away, but teams can start using the franchise tag next Monday. The deadline to place the tag on a player is March 5, eight days before free agency begins. Although Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has said in the past that he doesn't have any plans on using the franchise tag this year, it may be necessary if he wants Cliff Avril to be playing in Detroit next season.
Although there is still a lot of time for negotiations to happen, Avril's agent, Brian Mackler, told the Associated Press today that contract talks with the Lions are moving "very slowly" right now. This obviously isn't a good sign for a long-term deal being worked out before the franchise tag comes into play. I'm sure the Lions would prefer to avoid the franchise tag and get something done before it comes to that. Avril would also like to avoid the franchise tag and get something of the long-term variety done.
Avril said Friday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he wants to sign a long-term contract to stay in Detroit.
As with most negotiations, talks often don't progress until the pressure is on and time is running out. For the Lions and Avril, they have until March 5 to get something done and avoid the franchise tag. If they can't get a new deal worked out by then, the Lions will have to decide if they want to tag Avril or run the risk of losing him in free agency.