Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril's production has steadily increased over his first four seasons in the NFL, topping out with 11 quarterback sacks, six forced fumbles, his first career interception and a pair of touchdown returns.
Retaining Avril is a top priority for the cap-strapped Lions, who shouldn't expect a hometown discount from the 25-year-old when free agency opens up next month, writes James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press.
"There's no such thing as a hometown discount in the NFL," Avril told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. "Once you can't play anymore, they're going to let you go, so you definitely have to strike gold when you can...That said, if they and another team present the same thing, I'd definitely stay with the Lions."
Avril earned $1.634 million on his three-year rookie contract and $2.611 million in base salary under a one-year restricted free agent tender in 2011. The 2012 franchise tag for defensive ends is projected to be worth around $10.5 million, more than twice what he's earned in his first four seasons in the NFL, but less than a third of the guaranteed money that Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson received last July and with no security beyond 2012.
"I just want to be paid as one of the guys that's helping the team grow," Avril said. "I want to be there. We have a young D-line. But I know it's a business, and you only hit free agency once or twice in your career, so you definitely have to take advantage of it."