Former Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, after being slapped with the franchise tag, became too valuable for the Lions to keep him which led the defensive end to the Seattle Seahawks. Now that Avril will be a key participant in Super Bowl XLVIII, how do the Lions feel after letting him go?
Avril joins Denver Broncos linebacker Paris Lenon and center Manny Ramirez as former Lions players who are playing in the biggest game of the season. While Lenon and Ramirez were serviceable players during their time in Detroit, Avril was an up-and-coming star that was finally getting recognized nationally for his work in the Motor City. Unfortunately, despite multiple attempts, the Lions and Avril could not reach a deal to continue the success that he had in the Motor City.
With Jason Jones — the supposed replacement for Avril — on injured reserve for most of the season, a big piece of the defensive line was gone. Just imagine the scenario if Avril stayed and what we could presume to be first-round pick Ezekiel Ansah playing opposite of him. That defensive front that “could have been” — a phrase uttered almost to a fault in Detroit — is scary to think about.
Avril simply could not be paid what he was worth. Detroit also had Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson getting big contract extensions, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be expecting one shortly as well. With key free agents like Reggie Bush and Glover Quin getting big free agent deals, Avril did not want to go through the franchise tag label for another year.
Fair or not, the Avril departure ultimately goes back to GM Martin Mayhew and former head coach Jim Schwartz. There is a popular internet meme in the style of Lion King that says, “Dad, what’s a Super Bowl” with the response being, “I don’t know son, we’re Lions.”
This time around, once these Lions left their “pride” in Detroit there were greener and warmer pastures awaiting them. Whoever wins Super Bowl XLVIII, a Detroit Lion will be winning the Super Bowl — sadly as a former member of the team.