Mayhew not worried about Avril

DETROIT — It’s Day 5 of Detroit Lions training camp, defensive end Cliff Avril still hasn’t signed his franchise tender and general manager Martin Mayhew insists he’s not the least bit worried.

“I would love to have Cliff here, looking forward to seeing him,” Mayhew said today. “Eventually I know he will be here and he’ll be in great condition when he gets here. I know he’s a hard worker. He’s getting ready to play football and he’s excited about this season.”

Avril and the Lions failed to reach a long-term contract extension by the July 16 deadline, leaving Avril to play this season on the one-year franchise tender of $10.6 million.

But Avril, who can’t sign a new deal until after the season, is sitting out the early part of camp to avoid injury. He’s not required to report until he signs.

“He’s no different than a free agent on the street except that we have his rights, but he’s not under contract,” Mayhew said. “When he gets here, he’ll be here and I’ll be glad to see him.”

Avril did not respond to a text message today seeking comment about his plans to report, but indicated to the Free Press earlier this month that he’d be in sometime after his son’s first birthday Aug. 3.

Last year, Avril set career-highs with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. Just 26, he promises to be one of the most coveted pass rushers on the market if he’s allowed to hit unrestricted free agency next year.

“One of the things about Cliff’s situation, if there’s anything positive to take from it, or that was encouraging for me was he’s very optimistic about how he’s going to perform this season and he’s willing to bet on himself and I respect that about him,” Mayhew said. “He has his reasons for not being here, but I guess what I’m saying is we made a very solid offer to him that we felt was a very good offer. He was willing to bet on himself and bet he’s going to outperform what was on the table, and I like that.”

The Lions have a number of other starters heading for unrestricted free agency, including defensive tackle Corey Williams, linebackers Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy, and defensive backs Chris Houston and Louis Delmas.

Houston said Monday he’s not worried about how the Avril situation affects his ability to get a new long-term deal.

“That’s business,” Houston said. “I want the best for him. Football don’t last too long. I definitely want the best for him and I definitely want him out here cause it’s much easier when he’s out there.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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