Lions slap franchise tag on Avril

Cliff Avril (getty)

Detroit uses franchise tag to retain services of defensive end.

The Detroit Lions have elected to use their franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Lions had until 4pm EST to decide whether or not to apply the franchise tag designation to Avril. Had the Lions opted not to use the tag, Avril would have become an unrestricted free agent on March 13 in absence of a long-term deal.

The Lions designated Avril as a non-exclusive franchise player, meaning that the 25 year old is able to negotiate contracts with other teams. If Avril were to sign an offer sheet from any other club, the Lions would have the right to match the offer or receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.

Players designated with the non-exclusive franchise tag are paid a one-year salary that is the average of the five highest paid players at the position from the previous year, while the exclusive franchise tag pays designated players an average of the five highest salaries from the position in the current season.

Avril's 2012 salary, if a long term deal is not reached, will be roughly $10.6 million.

There have been reports that Avril may consider holding out if the franchise tag is placed on him. Whether or not that happens will remain to be seen and would be avoided if the sides are able to reach a long-term deal – which they will still attempt to do.

The franchise tag may provide some stimulation to negotiations as it establishes a negotiating point for annual salary.

If Avril can make north of $10 million playing under the franchise tag, it is unlikely he'll concede to a lesser annual salary under a long-term deal.

Avril entered last offseason as a restricted free agent and hoped that he would receive a long-term deal. Instead, the Lions offered him a first-round tender that he did not sign until early August.

The Lions wanted Avril to prove he was worthy of a lucrative, long-term deal. Avril delivered with 11 sacks, six forced fumbles and two touchdowns.

There are still some uncertainties regarding the situation. Will Avril hold out? Can the sides reach a long term deal?

For certain is the Lions belief that Avril is a valuable cog on defense and their willingness to pay him accordingly – at least for one season.

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