Even before he received the franchise tag, Cliff Avril caused a lot of debate among Detroit Lions fans about if the team should even bother trying to bring him back. For many, Avril is viewed as an expendable player despite his big season in 2011. The thinking is that his numbers were boosted by his fellow defensive linemen and that you could just stick somebody like Willie Young in his place and the numbers wouldn't be too much different.
I personally don't buy into that thinking one bit. Avril has improved each year he has been in the league, and he is an excellent pass rusher. I'm very glad the Lions have franchised him and essentially ensured he will be back with the team next season. Fellow Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is also quite happy with the move.
"He was our unquestioned defensive MVP last year," Vanden Bosch said. "He made a ton of big plays for us; offenses always had to account for him, and the thing you see is he's only getting better. As good as a season as he had last year, his arrow's still pointing up."
Vanden Bosch added that in his view, the Lions' move to franchise Avril should be seen as an honor since it's the their way of saying that they "don't want to go on without" him. He also said that he got to see all of Avril's hard work last offseason since they worked out together during the lockout, and it sounds like Vanden Bosch has very high hopes for Avril in 2012 and beyond.