Regardless if you think Cliff Avril deserves a long-term deal or not, there are two factors that everyone can agree on.
1. Avril is an important cog in the Lions defensive machine. His absence would be a huge loss.
2. Avril is no closer to being signed than he was a month ago.
Detroit put the franchise tag on Avril so they would not lose him to free agency. Unfortunately, Avril wanted to be franchised about as much as Mark Sanchez wanted Tim Tebow as his backup.
Needless to say, he still has not signed the one-year franchise tender of $10.6 million and has no immediate plans to do so (via Detroit Free Press). As a result, he will not be able to participate in the Lions' offseason conditioning program which starts next week.
In the meantime, Avril and the Lions continue to negotiate a long-term deal but are not close.
If he doesn't have a deal in place by July 15th, he will be forced to play the season on another one-year contract.
I don't believe Avril will miss time because of the contract issue, but it could impact his performance. I think Avril is a professional, but when it comes down to it he's not happy with the situation.
As the regular season gets closer that will not change. Particularly during training camp, the media focus on Avril's deal—or lack thereof—could become a serious distraction.
The last thing the Lions need is a player sulking in the locker room, disrupting team chemistry and positivity.
That was the old Lions, not this team.