When NFL free agency opened, the Detroit Lions didn't make a legitimate attempt to re-sign defensive end Cliff Avril. Money had a lot to do with that, as Lions general manager Martin Mayhew believes that it would have cost them the ability to sign two players just to retain Avril.
Another factor in the Lions' decision to go in another direction may have simply been Avril's skill set. He excelled in the Lions' scheme, but that doesn't necessarily mean the Lions excelled as a team on the defensive line. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz actually thinks that new defensive end Jason Jones, who is going to replace Avril at left end, is a better fit in this regard, and he said as much earlier this week. From the Free Press:
"I think his talents sort of stand alone," Schwartz said. "And it's more about just putting the players that we have in position to be able to make plays. We couldn't do that with Cliff. That didn't fit his skill set.
"We put Cliff in what we thought was the best position for him to be effective and for him to help us. It didn't necessarily put Nick Fairley or Ndamukong Suh in the best position. But that's coaching. You just try to put guys in the best position that they can do."
Schwartz went on to note that Jones plays differently than Avril, which isn't necessarily a huge revelation considering Jones has the ability to play defensive tackle as well. In Schwartz's view, Avril's strength was on the edge as a speed rusher, whereas Jones can affect the quarterback coming from the inside and even when he's being blocked thanks to his long arms.
Between the cost and that difference in skill sets, the Lions seem to think Jones will be a much better fit with their defensive line than Avril was.