However, they're realistic the franchise tag might be the best option at this point.
"We've been very aggressive in trying to get a deal done," Lions president Tom Lewand said at the NFL league meetings Monday. "We've had a lot of discussions with his agent. They've been very committed. It is where it is now.
"We like Cliff. There are no secrets about that. We wouldn't have tagged him if we didn't. We want Cliff around. There are no secrets about that. We wouldn't have tagged him if we didn't."
But the Lions won't pay a price they aren't comfortable with, either, hence the impasse. The Lions have until July 15 to get a deal done.
"(Avril) is now like any player in the last year of his contract and that's really the way we look at it," Lewand said. "We'll continue to pay mind to getting him extended just like we will a number of other guys."
Besides Avril, linebackers
- There is a different feel to this year's NFL league meetings down in Florida, according to Lewand. The league is in labor peace and, outside the "bounty" scandal involving the Saints, the meetings are fairly drama-free.
- That's given the league a chance to set its sights to the future and ways to build the game.
- "We can now look forward in a way we couldn't previously at the way the business is evolving and things we have to do to maintain competitiveness in a world full of emerging technologies and demands," Lewand said of the meetings thus far. "I would say that's the overall theme of this."
- Lewand on the punishments handed down to the Saints by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week for their involvement in a "bounty" program:
- "The commissioner made a tough decision and one thing he's proven to be and his administration is thorough," he said. "They said in our first league meeting that his first goal was to protect the shield and protect the integrity of the game, and I think he's clearly done what he felt was necessary to do that. I have a lot of confidence that the actions he takes, not only in the case of the Saints but in a lot of other cases, is designed to do that and has a powerful impact."
- New television contracts are coming in 2014, but Lewand said he doesn't expect them to offer a spike to the salary cap.
- "I think history has shown very few spikes in the cap even with new television deals," he said. "I think the danger that you can get into from a cap perspective is thinking that there's some amnesty year, or if you kick the can down the road far enough that somehow it'll fall off the edge of the earth. It doesn't. The can's still there when you kick it."
- The Lions are projected to be right around the cap after setting aside the roughly $4.5 million it will take to sign their rookies.
- "I think that a lot of clubs have cap issues going forward," he said. "I think that it's going to be a tight cap, it's going to be a challenging cap.
- "Even with the new television deals, I think you've got to be pragmatic. You have to be smart about the dollars that you can spend now but cognizant of what you're going to spend in the future and how what you're spending today impacts the future."