With it now official that Cliff Avril won't be getting a long-term deal from the Detroit Lions this year, he is going to have to play on his franchise tag in 2012. He has not yet signed his franchise tag, and it's not clear when specifically he plans to sign it. As mentioned earlier today, he could decide to sign it tonight, next week or right before the start of the regular season. It's up to him at this point.
While nothing is set in stone, it doesn't look like Avril will sign his tender in time for the start of training camp. Here's what he told the Detroit Free Press on Monday about his plans:
"I don’t know when I’m going to go back, honestly," Avril said. "Me and my agent have to sit down, talk about it this weekend and go from there. At least I’ll get to see my son’s first birthday, Aug. 3."
Based on that last comment, I would expect to see Avril sign his tender and report to camp at least a week or so after it begins, as Aug. 3 is one week after the first day of practice. He will get to be there for his son's birthday by not signing his tender until after Aug. 3, so it seems like a good bet for him to wait until then.
Avril also talked to the Free Press about his reaction to not getting a long-term deal. He is certainly disappointed, as are the Lions, but he isn't upset with the franchise itself over this. He knows it's a business, and sometimes things like this happen.
"Definitely something I wanted, definitely wanted to be here long-term," Avril said. "I wanted to get something done. I want to be with the Lions, I want to be in Detroit, but we’ll be back at the same situation next year, unfortunately. Got to go through with all this extra stuff that I usually don’t get involved in, as far as with the media and all that stuff. It is what it is, though. I’m not salty about it at all."
While I'd obviously like to see Avril sign his tender in time for the start of camp, I can't really fault him all that much for taking an extra week or so off in order to be at his son's first birthday. If his absence extends beyond the first week of camp my tune may change a bit, but as long as he signs early enough to get ready for the regular season, I don't have a huge problem with him putting it off.