April 27, 2012; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions first round draft pick Riley Reiff is introduced along with general manager Martin Mayhewat (left) , head coach Jim Schwartz (second from left) and president Tom Lewand (right) at Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
The Detroit Lions wrapped up their offseason training program last week and are now set to get some time off before training camp begins at the end of July. Although there won't be a whole lot of activity surrounding the Lions over the next month or so since they are theoretically on vacation, there is still some business to take care of during the break.
Specifically, the Lions have three contract situations that still need to be worked out. One involves a draft pick, one involves a veteran and one involves the head coach. Let's take a look at each situation.
was selected 23rd overall in this year's NFL Draft, and the thinking was he wouldn't be too difficult to sign. Every other Lions pick is currently under contract, and in general contract signings get done at a pretty quick rate nowadays. Despite this, Reiff is still unsigned, but for the benefit of both sides, a deal needs to get done before training camp opens next month.
There haven't been too many updates on the status of negotiations between Reiff and the Lions, but it's worth noting that Reiff attended all of the Lions' OTAs and the mandatory minicamp despite not being under contract. He is not the kind of guy who is likely to hold out, and his lack of a contract appears to be more about the issues surrounding the deals for first-round picks from this year's draft rather than Reiff individually holding out.
While I did expect a deal to get done by now, it'd be pretty surprising if this dragged on into camp. I would imagine that Reiff will be signed in time to begin practice with the Lions in July.
has been hoping to get a long-term deal for the last year, and the Lions have been hoping to sign him to one. Unfortunately, the two sides don't see eye to eye on Avril's long-term worth, so a new contract hasn't been agreed to. Avril played on a one-year restricted free agent tender in 2011, and now he has been designated as the Lions' franchise player.
Although Avril has been franchised, he has not yet signed his tender. He didn't attend any of the Lions' offseason workouts or practices, and there has been some talk that he could remain unsigned and miss part of training camp. This wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, though. The Lions and Avril have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal. After that, Avril's only option for 2012 if he wants to play is to sign his franchise tender. As long as he doesn't sign his tender, he will be sitting at home and not making $10.6 million. Obviously, that wouldn't be a smart move.
Considering talks on a long-term deal have not seemingly progressed all that much in the last year, it certainly looks like Avril will be playing on his one-year franchise tender in 2012. The July 16 deadline for a long-term deal could certainly change things and result in something getting done, but if not, Avril will have to sign his tender if he wants to play in the NFL in 2012.
Jim Schwartz has made it clear that he doesn't want to talk about his contract situation. In fact, the Lions in general don't have any interest in talking about Schwartz's contract. It is worth discussing, though. Schwartz has one year left on his deal, and given the improvement the Lions have made in his first three years in Detroit, it's expected that he will be signed to an extension.
Right now, it's not known where exactly things stand in terms of getting Schwartz a new contract. It isn't the highest priority, but it is important for the Lions to lock Schwartz down before the 2012 season begins. He certainly wouldn't let it become a distraction, but it'd be nice for both Schwartz and the Lions to get their long-term future together secured with an extension.