Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/21/12

Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril reported to training camp on August 5, ending his holdout after only nine days.

After a breakout 11-sack season last year, Avril came into the offseason looking to be paid like a Pro Bowler on a long-term deal.

The Lions had other plans, sticking him with the one-year franchise tag.

Like many players tagged this year, Avril refused to immediately sign his franchise tender in an effort to force the Lions to come up with a contract.

When he still failed to sign the tender on the eve of training camp, Lions fans had real reasons to worry.

But after an offseason of negotiating, it’s the Lions who have gotten exactly what the needed. Make no mistake, the Lions need Avril coming off the edge this year. Willie Young and Laurence Jackson are solid, but neither generates pressure like Avril.

With the Lions fielding a defensive backfield that may be even worse than last year's, constant quarterback pressure will be essential. Avril’s explosiveness makes this possible. Even more importantly, the Lions need Avril happy and motivated. This was the biggest risk the team took by tagging him. Had Avril decided to sit camp in its entirety, the Lions couldn't expect him to match last year’s production. Instead, they'd be stuck paying an out-of-shape malcontent $10.6 million.

Lions GM Martin Mayhew took a risk knowing Avril's character. He's not a Jackson. The Lions will have to rely on Avril to commit early and play like he's in a contract year if they want to make noise this year. There are no guarantees that this will happen, but Avril's presence this early in camp is a major positive sign.  

Finally, the Lions desperately need financial flexibility. Calvin Johnson is locked into a superstar contract, but Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh are likely to command massive extensions in the near future. Unless one of them falls off the map or Avril takes another huge step forward, a long-term deal for the defensive end may never be in the cards.

With the franchise tag, the Lions get an extra year to look for Avril's replacement without losing a key defensive player in 2011. Lions GM Martin Mayhew played this situation perfectly. He managed to secure a borderline Pro Bowler on a one-year contract without causing a disruption during training camp. It’s a subtle victory, but it should pay dividends all season.  

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Geno Smith ‘kind of pissed off’ about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return

Bell admits he knew about missed drug test, lied to media

Report: Chargers rookie Joey Bosa to hold out of camp

Doc Rivers blames ‘bloggers’ for Blake Griffin trade rumors

Jason Peters: Eagles practiced too much under Chip Kelly


Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

WATCH: Belichick gets annoyed by Jimmy Garoppolo question

Ronda Rousey denies being pregnant despite rumor

Eight most overpaid offensive players in NFL

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker