Defensive end Cliff Avril is set to become a free agent next Tuesday. Starting Saturday, his agent can start making contact with other teams to set up visits and begin negotiations. Avril was hoping to get this opportunity a year ago after not getting a long-term deal with the Detroit Lions, but the team decided to franchise him, keeping him around for the 2012 season.
This year, the Lions passed on using the franchise tag, and negotiations on a long-term deal don't seem to be going anywhere. The Free Press' Dave Birkett caught up with Avril earlier this week, and Avril said that contact between the two sides has been "minimal." In other words, an agreement to keep Avril in Detroit isn't close, and he is almost certainly going to become a free agent next week. Here's more from the Free Press:
"(This week will) give me a good idea of what's going on, if I'll be here or if I'll be gone," Avril said. "This week will definitely gauge that, I guess."
The feeling all along has been that Avril will hit free agency and get a deal elsewhere worth more than the Lions are willing to pay. Avril is considered one of the top pass rushers in this year's class of free agents, and unless the market sets a much different price than expected, I can't see the Lions re-signing him.