The Detroit Lions have a lot of players set to hit free agency this offseason, and a few of them could command pretty nice contracts on the open market. The most notable free agent is defensive end Cliff Avril. He played on the franchise tag last year after turning down a deal from the Lions worth a reported $30 million over three years. Now, he will have a chance to potentially cash in on becoming a free agent.
While there are some doubts about Avril actually getting a big contract because of his play last season, the general consensus seems to be that he is among the top free agents this year. Just look at CBS Sports' free agent rankings. They have Avril ranked as the top available defensive player and the third-best free agent in all of the NFL (behind only Joe Flacco and Ryan Clady).
Avril isn't the only Lions player who made the top 100 on CBS Sports. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus is 28th in the rankings, and just behind him is cornerback Chris Houston at No. 34. Defensive end Lawrence Jackson also made the list down at No. 78.
Obviously CBS Sports' rankings are far from the only opinion on free agency. Pro Football Focus (on ESPN), for example, has Avril all the way down at No. 23 on its list of free agents for this year. Cherilus is 41st in PFF's rankings, and no other Lions player is in the top 50.
The other caveat is that the only free agent rankings that will ultimately matter are those of NFL teams. If some team out there thinks of Avril as one of the best free agents, then he will likely be paid as such. If not, then the Lions may actually have a chance to re-sign him.