Cliff Avril is not participating in the Detroit Lions' offseason program while he hopes for a long-term deal from the team. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, who the team placed its franchise tender on earlier this offseason, remained optimistic about the possibility of agreeing with the team on a long-term deal before the July 16 deadline.
"Things will work themselves out," Avril told The Detroit Free Press on Saturday. "I don't stress out about it. It's a business and you can't get mad about it. So we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, I'm there for the start of (training) camp."
Avril was responding to comments earlier in the week from Lions President Tom Lewand, who told MLive.com on Wednesday from the Detroit Lions Invitational golf outing at TPC Michigan that "the ball is in his court." From Anwar Richardson's report on Wednesday:
"You have to ask him (if Avril will show up next week)," Lewand said from The 22nd annual Detroit Lions Invitational golf outing at TPC Michigan. "Obviously, we have the tender on Cliff, and he's welcome to sign that anytime he wants. We'll continue discussion on whether we can convert that into something on a long-term basis, but really in many ways of the tender, the ball is in his court."
Avril, who is not participating in the Lions' offseason program, joked that he and Lewand were "passing back and forth."
Avril and the Lions have a July 16 deadline to work out a long-term deal. If they don't, Avril could only sign with Detroit — no other NFL teams — for the next year. He would then become a free agent again next year. That means if he wants to play this season, he would likely have to sign the one-year, $10.6 million franchise tender.
"It's up to Tom," Avril told the Free Press. "It's up to Tom, and see where we can go with that."
Avril had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2011. He ranked 11th and second in the NFL in those respective categories.