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Lions DE Cliff Avril signs franchise tender, reports to training camp

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
Avril has 30 sacks since coming into the league in 2008. (US PRESSWIRE)

This spring, the Lions franchised defensive end Cliff Avril. Last month, the two sides broke off negotiations for a long-term deal and Avril wasn't sure he'd report to training camp, saying at the time, “I probably won't be there the first day. We'll just go from there. I just have to sit down and see what we think is right and we'll go from there.”

On Sunday, Avril, who had 11 sacks, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 2011, ended his holdout, signed his franchise tender and will join his teammates in camp.

That prompted this response from Avril's teammate, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh:

Some reports said that the Lions offered Avril a three-year, $30 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. In July, Avril told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that "it was close" when describing the contract talks. "It was like the size of a small ditch in the road," he said "neither side wanted to cross the ditch."

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Avril later told the Detroit Free-Press that, "I'm kind of disappointed that it didn't happen, but obviously I'm just not one of their top guys right now as far as getting a deal done."

Now Avril will play for $10.6 million in 2012 and he'll either reach a long-term agreement with the Lions in the coming months or become a free agent in the spring. However big his paycheck, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham is ecstatic to have one of his best players back in the fold.

"First of all, I love him as a human being," Cunningham Saturday before Avril signed his franchise tender. "And second of all, he's a tremendous football player. We talked quite a few times over this situation, this contract thing. But I never talk to him about money.

"I just talk to him about his and my relationship, which is a lot deeper than a coach and a player. He's more of a friend to me than anything. He's a good young man. God bless him. I hope you get here quick."

Wish granted, Gunther.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

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