Twentyman: Will Cliff Avril's gamble pay off in 2013?

Posted Jan 17, 2013

After the season, Cliff Avril said he’d like to re-sign with the Detroit Lions, but he's going to explore his options first.

Cliff AvrilCliff Avril took a gamble last offseason when he turned down a reported three-year, $30 million contract offer from the Detroit Lions in a late effort to sign the defensive end long-term, before the franchise tag deadline approached.

Because the Lions and Avril couldn’t come to an agreement, Avril played under the franchise tag worth $10.6 million in 2012.

It was a gamble Avril took in the hopes of cashing in even bigger this offseason.

In an interview with Ross Tucker and LaDainian Tomlinson on Sirius NFL Radio, Wednesday, Avril admitted that he probably took a step back in 2012 after a breakout 2011 season.

“I kind of took a step backwards, per se, if you look at it,” he said of his sack total falling from 11 in 2011 to 9.5 in 2012, and his forced fumbles decreasing from six to two. “You always strive to do better, but we’ll see.”

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said before the season that he liked the fact that Avril took a gamble, and was asked after the season if he felt it was the right decision.

"I don't think the roulette table has stopped spinning yet," he said "I don't know if he won the bet yet or not. That's a good question for him, though. But it's not over yet. We'll find out kind of where he is."

Avril, 26, will be an unrestricted free agent in March and Mayhew said he has no plans to use the franchise tag on anyone this year.

There will be a big market for a young pass rusher like Avril, who’s recorded 20.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles over the last two seasons.

When it comes to choosing a team when free agency begins in March, Avril said he’ll first look at scheme, but there are other things that could also peak his interest.

“I just want to go to a scheme that fits, that allows me to be a pass rusher. Playing on grass would be (great),” he said.

“I definitely wouldn’t mind playing on grass because playing on turf puts your joints in a tough position after so many years.”

Avril said it didn’t matter to him if a team played a 4-3 scheme vs. a 3-4, either.

“I played linebacker in college and my senior year is when I pretty much moved full time to defensive end,” he said.

“I feel like I can play both systems. Rushing is rushing, either you’re standing up or you’re in a three point. Rushing the quarterback is the same thing to me.”

In Detroit, Avril has been the benefactor of playing with terrific defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams over the last three years, and Nick Fairley the last two.

After the season, Avril said he’d like to re-sign with the Lions, but he's going to explore his options first.

“Whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” Avril told Tucker and Tomlinson Wednesday. “Some things you can’t control. Last year (the Lions) said they weren’t going to franchise me and they ended up franchising me.

"We’ll wait to see what happens in the next few months, but it’ll be interesting, for sure.”