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2012 NFL Free Agency: Cliff Avril Might Get Franchise Tag

IOver the next few weeks I'll be profiling some potential NFL free agents that the Jacksonville Jaguars could target. The team will have close to $50 million to spend and owner Shahid Khan says that the team plans to spend to the cap. The first player we will look at is Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, who if he hits the open market, is one of the top defensive ends available.

I asked Pride Of Detroit's Sean Yullie his thoughts on Avril. Click to jump to see what he had to say.

Cliff Avril is an outstanding pass rusher who excels because of his speed. He finds ways to get to the quarterback, and when he does, he makes plays. In 2011, his best season in the NFL, Avril recorded 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. He has become a master of the jarring the ball loose when he hits quarterbacks, and he is also great at capitalizing on turnovers (he had one fumble return and one interception return for a touchdown this past season), which is why the Lions want to bring him back so badly.

I asked Yullie what his thoughts were on the franchise tag and if it would be applied by the Lions:

As far as the franchise tag goes, it sounds more and more like the Lions will place it on him. The hope is that they will work something out with Avril before then, but based on his agent recently saying that negotiations are moving very slowly, it seems unlikely. My feeling is that if a long-term deal is not in place by the deadline to use the franchise tag (March 5), the Lions will place it on him in order to protect themselves. Doing so will give them the right to match any offer that comes his way or two first-round picks if they decline to match an offer, and it will also give them more time to negotiate. If he hits the open market without any restrictions, I doubt the Lions will be able to offer him enough to compete with other deals that will likely come his way since they don't have a ton of cap space to work with right now.