Found February 24, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
INDIANAPOLIS Putting the franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril is not an option Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew wants to use with the free-agency signing period three weeks away. Mayhews priority in talks with Avril and his agent is to reach agreement on a long-term contract. Avril is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. The deadline for applying the franchise tag, which greatly restricts a players ability to get offers from other teams, is March 5. Avril would be a prime target to be signed by another team if he hits the free-agent market. Avril had 11 sacks last season, his fourth with the Lions, and was among the NFL leaders in fumbles cause and recovered. Mayhews comments on Avril were made in a lengthy interview with the Detroit media at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday morning. Among other issues Mayhew addressed were other Lions who have contract issues wide receiver Calvin Johnson is at the top of that list and those eligible for free-agency, and college prospects in various position groups who are attending the Combine. Regarding other Lions veterans, Mayhew stressed that wide receiver Nate Burleson and defensive tackle Corey Williams have been told that there are no plans to release either player because of their contract situations. Both are starters. Avrils status was foremost in the discussion, partly because of Avrils recent comments about not wanting to have the franchise tag applied to him. We have not made a decision on Cliff, Mayhew said. Were still going to work on getting a long-term deal done. Certainly, its not our desire to franchise Cliff. We dont want to do that. Were hopeful we can get something long-term done. I think its the best thing for him and the best thing for us. Franchising him is not a good option for us. The only worse option is playing without him. We dont want to play without him. Despite the stated intention to avoid using the franchise tag, Mayhew did not rule out applying it. It would give Avril a one-year contract worth about 10.6 million, but Avril has said he would consider not reporting if he is tagged. The tag does not take effect if a player does not sign the tender offer, thus making him immune from discipline from the team for missing any official team functions, such as mandatory offseason mini-camps and training-camp practice. It just means what it means, Mayhew said of his stance on the tag. Franchising him is not something we want to do. Thats the point Im trying to make. Its not our desire. We want to have him on a long-term deal. We definitely dont want to play without him. Mayhew addressed the following issues: Calvin Johnson The Lions continue to work on extending Johnsons contract. The 2012 season is the last on the 6-year contract Johnson signed in 2007 when the Lions drafted him second overall. Johnson is due a bonus of about 7 million, which will make his salary-cap number for 2012 about 12 million. Working out a long-term deal with Johnson would give the Lions more room under the 2012 salary cap projected to be about 120 million but its not mandatory for the Lions to execute their plan to re-sign their on free agents, Mayhew said. We can handle Calvins number if we have to, Mayhew said. Obviously, wed have more flexibility , more cap room, so we have a desire to get that done. But we have a way to handle his number. Lions free agents Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, offensive tackle Jeff Backus, cornerback Eric Wright and backup quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton can be free agents, and Mayhew wants them all back. In Stantons case, he is looking to upgrade his status and compete for playing time. If he signs elsewhere, the Lions will look for another backup quarterback. 2012 draft strengths: There are a number of good cornerbacks. Offensive line is stronger and deeper at guard than at tackle, and defensive line is deep, as usual. The linebacker class is not deep in players who fit the Lions profile for the position. We get real specific on some of our physical characteristics that we look for at certain positions, Mayhew said That kind of thinned it out for us at linebacker, for example. Character issues Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama and Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama have had off-field issues that have raised questions. Mayhew talked with Jenkins at the Senior Bowl in January. We talked to Janoris at the Senior Bowl and plan to talk to some other guys here whove had some off-the-field situations, Mayhew said. We evaluate those on an individual basis. Vontaze Burfict The linebacker from Arizona State has drawn considerable attention from draft followers for his ability and his propensity to get personal fouls in batches. He doesnt have a lot of off-the-field issues, Mayhew said. He had some things on the field. Youve got to get to the bottom of why that is, and does that continue?

Detroit Lions don’t want to Franchise DE Cliff Avril

The impasse continues between the Detroit Lions and DE Cliff Avril. Cliff Avril, 25, is headed for free agency and the Detroit Lions want to keep the talented, young defensive end on the roster for the future. Avril has been adamant in his position of demanding a long-term contract from the Lions and has stated that he will holdout if the organiztion places the franchise...

Lions' Jim Schwartz: No scouting reports before NFL combine

"If you go in with a clean slate, you evaluate a player, you don't know that the scouts gave him a high grade, and you don't like him, and you're like, 'Well, we really don't like him, but the scouts graded him high.' That's not a good situation. Same thing vice versa."

Lions' Louis Delmas recalls NFL combine vividly

Louis Delmas remembers everything about his trip to the NFL combine three years ago, including the interrogation he got during his interview with the Lions.

Lions, Calvin Johnson making progress with contract negoiations

According to Philip Zaroo of, Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is working with Calvin Johnson’s agent to get an extension done in order to free u additional cap room. Johnson’s current deal doesn’t run out until after this coming season, but in order to re-sign a guy like Cliff Avril, the Lions need to create more cap room by restructuring and extending...

Lions' Jim Schwartz mum on Cortland Finnegan: 'There's a lot of guys that fit our scheme'

It's unlikely the Lions will be able to afford cornerback Cortland Finnegan if he hits the free-agent market next month, but that didn't stop questions about Finnegan coming Jim Schwartz's way at the NFL combine Thursday.

From the Podium: Jim Schwartz

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz discusses Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and his plan for the offseason. Look inside for the video from the NFL Combine.

Calvin Johnson's agent to meet with Detroit Lions Saturday to hammer out a deal

The Lions are expected to meet with Bus Cook on Saturday to discuss making Johnson the highest-paid receiver in the league. Johnson is entering the final season of his rookie contract with a salary cap number of about $22.5 million. The Lions would like to extend his contract to keep him in Detroit long term and free up valuable cap space before free agency starts next month.

Lions' Martin Mayhew prefers scouting on college campuses

Since taking over as Detroit Lions general manager three years ago, Martin Mayhew has tried to keep the same fall scouting schedule he had while working as Matt Millen's right-hand man.

Report: Detroit Lions looking to trade cornerback Alphonso Smith

The fourth-year defensive back had three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, in 2011.

Detroit Lions Links: Team to meet with Calvin Johnson's agent Bus Cook on Saturday

Cook told the Detroit Free Press that the two sides haven't talked much about a new contract, but hopes they can move quickly toward working it out.

Lions, Johnson's agent to discuss contract extension at combine

The Lions already have made it crystal clear that Calvin Johnson isn't going anywhere anytime soon. To make that happen, the Lions are reportedly set to make Johnson the richest wideout in the NFL.
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!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.