The clock is ticking for the Lions and defensive end
Avril has yet to sign the $10.6 million franchise tender the team issued to him back in March.
Avril told SiriusXM NFL radio Tuesday that he’s “optimistic” a deal can get done before the deadline.
"I think we are moving closer,” he said. “We are progressing. But I still think there are still things that need to be ironed out, like the numbers."
Unfortunately, “the numbers” is a pretty big part of the equation. It might be tough for the Lions and Avril to come to an agreement before the deadline unless the Lions can get him for a good price – say around $8 million per season. The Lions have a number of other free agent contracts coming due next season, including those of
“We’re talking. We’re still trying to get things figured out before camp,” Avril told the NFL Network last month. “I want to be there long-term, I want to get a deal done. I don’t want to play under the franchise tag. I’ve been with the team for four, going on five years. Started off a little shaky going 0-16 and I want to be with the team when we make the Super Bowl run.”
Avril said in Tuesday's interview that he’d rather not play under a one-year franchise tag and thinks it could possibly affect him mentally to do so.“It impacts you mentally,” Avril said of playing under a one-year deal. “Last year I played under a one-year deal, also. It impacts you because you go out there and you’re going to bust your behind but if you get hurt then you’re kind of out of it.
“If you have a long-term deal, at least you know the following year you’ll have a chance to bounce back. If you end up getting hurt and your value goes down it kind of messes you up during the season and mentally you don’t want that over your head. I think it can slow you down.”
Avril, 25, was one of three defensive ends to receive the franchise tag this offseason. The other two – Calais Cambell of the Cardinals and the Colts’ Robert Mathis -- have signed extensions.
Mathis, 31, received a four-year deal worth $36 million with reportedly $17 million of that guaranteed. Campbell, 25, who was selected 42 picks before Avril in the 2008 NFL Draft, received $31 million in guarantees in a five-year, $55 million deal.
After the season, Avril referenced the deals signed by the Chiefs Tamba Hali (five-year, $60 million) and the Panthers Charles Johnson (six-year, $72 million) when asked about where he’d like his contract negotiations to go.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported in May that Avril was seeking a four-year deal in excess of $42 million. The report claimed the Lions and Avril were upwards of $2 million apart per season.
Avril tweeted shortly after that report came out that people shouldn’t believe everything they read, though.
“I’ve been through this before,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of the negotiations with Avril. “There’s no panic button. We don’t panic. The plan is to get a long-term deal done with him and the (franchise) tender is out there and has always been available.”
Avril has missed the team's OTAs and mini-camp this offseason, but is unlikely to sit out the season and leave the one-year deal – which is equivalent to about two and a half times of what he’s earned his entire career – on the table.
If a long-term deal is not struck by the 4 p.m. deadline, Avril will have to play this season under the franchise tender and will become an unrestricted free agent following the season.
“It’s a very complicated deal,” Mayhew said. “It takes time to get some of these deals done. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised it’s not done now. I think its very complex and those guys are doing an outstanding job continuing to have dialogue.”