Lions Sweating Out Avril's Future

Carlos Osorio/AP

The Lions have insisted for months that Cliff Avril is a big part of their future, but if the franchised defensive end doesn't sign a long-term deal by 4 p.m. today there's a chance this season will be his last in Detroit.

Just 26, Avril will be one of the most coveted defensive ends available if he's allowed to test the free-agent market next spring (as he would have been this year if the Lions hadn't saddled him with the franchise tag).

He has 30 sacks in four NFL seasons, is coming off a career year with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles and is entering his prime as a pass rusher.

If Avril plays this fall under the $10.6-million franchise tender, the Lions won't be able to sign him to an extension until after the season.

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