The Detroit Lions have had a busy NFL off-season. I guess that’s what happens when you underachieve and post a 4-12 record. The team has restructured several contracts and shown some veteran players the door, all in the name of salary cap relief. All of these moves were done so the team can re-sign the necessary pieces for 2013 and also obtain some free agents before the season starts.
One player the Lions should not chase after is Cliff Avril. The Lions used the Franchise tag on defensive end Avril for the 2012 season. Avril was paid $10.61 million in 2012 and should see close to the same amount per season once he hits the open market on Tuesday.
In 2012, Avril posted an impressive 35 tackles, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. These numbers were good, but of course not up to the huge standard Avril laid out in 2011. During the Lion’s 10-6 2011 season, Avril had 36 tackles, 11.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Avril will be hard to replace, especially with the already departure of veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. However, the Lions simply can not afford to pay double digits to Avril. The team has over $50 million in salary cap committed to Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson in 2013. The Lions will be looking to draft a DE in the 2013 NFL Draft and could possibly use the #5 overall pick to fill the void left by Avril.
The Cleveland Browns have already expressed interest in Avril. Surprisingly the Browns would shift Avril to outside linebacker to work in their 3-4 defensive scheme. Avril seemed comfortable in the Lions’ 4-3 defense, so I’m not sure how a move to Cleveland would work. For some reason, I don’t think Avril cares as much about position as he does money.