Detroit Lions: Can Both Stephen Tulloch and Cliff Avril Remain with Team?

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Detroit Lions: Can Both Stephen Tulloch and Cliff Avril Remain with Team?
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Detroit DE Cliff Avril will be stripping balls out of Christian Ponder's hands for at least one more year

It's getting to be crunch time for the Detroit Lions, with the deadline to give the franchise tag to one of their players coming on Monday afternoon.

Either defensive end Cliff Avril or linebacker Stephen Tulloch have been the top candidates to receive the tag, but it's looking more and more likely that Avril will get it, as reported by FOX Sports' Aaron Wilson.

If true, then Tulloch will need to be locked down to a new deal before March 13, or he will become a free agent, able to be picked up by any team.

As of two days ago, Tulloch and the Lions were still far apart in their contract negotiations. The same goes for Avril, who made $2.6 million last year and is looking for a bigger payday, which he would most certainly get with the franchise tag for him worth $10.6 million.

With a number like that and the Lions still working to get further under the salary cap, it might not be financially prudent for the team to give Tulloch a new deal.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
There are certainly things money can't buy, but LB Stephen Tulloch's tackling ability isn't one of them

Though Tulloch has performed well in his single season with the Lions, keeping Avril, a four-year veteran who has played for Detroit for his entire career, is a far greater priority.

He had 11 sacks, 36 total tackles and six forced fumbles in 2011, while taking full advantage of fellow defensive end Ndamukong Suh being double-teamed play after play.

Tulloch was impressive as well, with 111 total tackles, three sacks, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions, but the finances just aren't there for him to stick around. The team would have to do a lot of restructuring and roster reshuffling between now and the 13th to have the necessary funds to keep him.

Tulloch made $3.25 million in 2011; while it's unknown how much he's currently looking for, it's safe to say that number is considerably higher than the one-year deal he got last season, though not likely as much as the salary cap number for linebackers this year, clocking in at around $9 million.

So while one bullet has been dodged and Avril will remain a Lion, much still has to be done if Tulloch can stay as well.

 

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