General manager Martin Mayhew said the team remained committed to working out a long-term deal for defensive end Cliff Avril.
"I think (Lions president) Tom (Lewand) is doing an outstanding job with that," Mayhew said. "I think Brian Mackler (Avril's agent) is doing an outstanding job. I think Cliff is being very level-headed in his thought process. So there's a lot that goes on with that. It's very a complicated deal. It takes time to get some of these deals done. I wouldn't say that I'm surprised that it's not done now, you know?"
Avril, who has not signed a $10.6 million franchise tender and hasn't attended any offseason workouts, has until July 16 to work out a long-term deal.
"I said from the very beginning, our goal is to have a long-term deal done with Cliff Avril. That's what our goal is," Mayhew said. "We've been working toward that the entire time. So I don't think the ball's in anybody's court. I think the ball's in everybody's court. We're trying to get a long-term deal done with Cliff."
Appearing on NFL Network, Avril said he prefers not to play under the franchise tag but didn't offer any hints on his plans for training camp.
Avril said talks with the Lions geared toward a long-term contract continue. The deadline to sign a long-term deal for franchise players is July 16. Otherwise, Avril's one-year, $10.6 million franchise tender will apply.
"Yeah, we're talking," he said. "We're still trying to get things figured out before camp. I want to be there long-term. I want to get a deal done. I don't want to play under the franchise tag."
Avril didn't take exception to Mayhew's recent comments boosting third-year defensive end Willie Young as an adequate fill-in if Avril should opt for a holdout into preseason and beyond.
"I think Willie's a good player," Avril said. "Don't get me wrong, I definitely feel like he's a heck of a player and he's playing good right now. But I didn't expect the spot to be given to me anyways."
Avril, 26, has 19.5 sacks the past two seasons and forced six fumbles in 2011. He was a rookie on the Lions' winless team in 2008 and helped take the team to the postseason last year.
"I've been with this team for four, going on five years; started off a little shaky, 0-16," he said. "I want to be with the team when we make the Super Bowl run."