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Monday, May 7, 2012
Cliff Avril market continues to take shape

By Kevin Seifert

You might have heard over the weekend that Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $49 million, including $20 million guaranteed. Some of you have asked what that means for Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, who is seeking a multiyear extension.

Avril and Wake are in slightly different situations. The Lions have made Avril their franchise player, meaning he would earn a $10.6 million base salary in 2012 if the sides don't agree on a longer deal. Wake, on the other hand, was in the final year of his rookie deal and was scheduled to make $650,000 in 2012.

Also, it's important to note that Wake, who played in the CFL before signing with the Dolphins, is 30. Avril is 26. Football longevity factors into all long-term deals.

Not all of the numbers in Wake's deal are in, but it's worth noting the average is worth about $1.5 million more annually than the franchise figure.

In return for locking himself in for four years, Wake got $20 million in guarantees. Last summer, Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson received $30 million in guarantees in exchange for signing a six-year deal at about the same average Wake got.

We've been through this issue several times during the offseason. Not all of you are willing to put Avril in the financial category reserved for the NFL's top pass-rushers. But Avril's career numbers tend to sneak up on people. He has 30 sacks in four seasons; Wake has 28 in three while Johnson had 21.5 sacks in his first three seasons before signing his deal.

In the end, you can see why the Lions might not be highly motivated to strike a deal now that they have entered the new league year with Avril's high salary-cap number accounted for. But if the sides do agree on a deal, you can expect it to be in Wake's range if it's on the shorter end. If Avril wants more guaranteed money, he'll have to sign a deal approaching the length of Johnson's.