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Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Lions want Cliff Avril back

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

As we noted a few moments ago, caution is paramount when it comes to the NFL's offseason maneuverings. Nowhere is that more important than in the realm of restricted free agency, the process by which NFL teams can partially inhibit the movement of younger players whose contracts are expiring.

Under the uncapped season in place as of today, players with less than six accrued seasons fall under this category. Most NFL teams are making tender offers to all such players, even though a new collective bargaining agreement could drop that threshold to five or four seasons.

It is with that background that we pass along the Detroit Lions' decision to place a high tender on defensive end Cliff Avril, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Under the current system, any team that wants to sign him would be required to send the Lions a first- and third-round draft pick -- a non-starter for but the best NFL players.

A new CBA could render that tender moot, making Avril an unrestricted free agent. But for now, it at least tells us the Lions are placing a high value on Avril's ensured return.

Decisions about a number of other Lions players in the same category, including cornerback Chris Houston, are expected by the end of the week. Whether they mean anything in the end is anyone's guess.