July 8, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions player Cliff Avril prior to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
The Cliff Avril contract saga will not necessarily come to a close on Monday, but the questions about whether or not he will get a long-term deal from the Detroit Lions this year will be answered. This is because Monday at 4 p.m. ET is the deadline for players under the franchise tag designation to work out a long-term deal with their team. Avril and the Lions have not come to terms on a long-term deal, and this is their final chance to get something done until next year.
As it stands right now, it would be pretty surprising if a long-term deal ends up being worked out. Anything is possible, but Avril no longer sounds confident in something getting done. He is remaining optimistic, but the reality is that a long-term deal is unlikely.
"I’m hopeful, but I don’t know," Avril told the Free Press. "I’m not getting a good vibe, let’s put it that way. But I’m hopeful."
If no long-term agreement comes about on Monday, this situation will move to the next phase, which can be summed up by one question: When will Avril sign his franchise tender? It'll still be possible for another team to come along and sign Avril to an offer sheet that the Lions would have the opportunity to match, but that's even more unlikely than him getting a long-term deal from Detroit on Monday.
Basically, Avril's options will be to sign the franchise tender or sit out the 2012 season. He isn't going to leave $10.6 million on the table, so it's a given that he will sign it at some point. The unknown is when he will decide to sign. He could sign his tender on Monday after the deadline, right as training camp begins next week, halfway through training camp or not until right before the regular season. It's not clear what his plans are right now, as he has been focused on getting a long-term deal.
If the Lions and Avril are surprisingly able to get a long-term deal done, we can put this situation in the rear-view mirror for good. Fans would certainly still be discussing the terms of the contract, but for the Lions, their only contract issue going forward would be signing rookie Riley Reiff before camp opens.
The Lions have made it clear that they aren't going to cave in to Avril's salary demands, so I'm hoping the long-term deal scenario shockingly ends up happening. Not only would the Lions not have to worry about Avril being a free agent again next year or when he will sign his tender, but chances are they would get him at their desired rate. That would be great in more ways than one.