The main focus at defensive end this offseason has been on the contract situation involving Cliff Avril. He was given the franchise tag by the Detroit Lions, and now he will have to play on his one-year tender worth $10.6 million after he and the Lions were unable to agree on a long-term deal before last week's deadline. Although Avril has not yet signed his tender and hasn't decided when he will actually sign it and report to training camp, the expectation is for him to be ready to go for the start of the regular season.
Avril's future with the Lions beyond 2012 is seriously up in the air, but the good news is this team has a lot of other talent at defensive end. If Avril ends up not returning next season, this talent will be able to cushion the blow of seeing a guy like him leave. For 2012, it means the Lions have an awful lot of depth. Kyle Vanden Bosch is back as a starter, and guys like Willie Young and Lawrence Jackson are continuing to improve as pass rushers on the Lions defensive line.
The Lions also have some other promising talent on the team at defensive end with the addition of Ronnell Lewis and Everette Brown. Lewis was a fourth-round pick in this year's draft and is very athletic. He may be raw as a defensive end, but he should bring a lot to the table on special teams as he adapts to playing this position in the NFL. Brown's story is quite a bit different. He was a second-round pick in 2009 and hasn't done much of note in his career so far. He seems to be a pretty good fit in the Lions' defensive scheme, though. The hope is he will be able to take his game to another level in Detroit, much like Jackson did after joining the Lions a couple years ago.
The two other defensive ends on the roster right now are Ugo Chinasa and Edmon McClam. Chinasa was on the practice squad for part of last season and McClam joined the Lions earlier this offseason as an undrafted free agent.
Need going forward?
The Lions are overflowing with talent at defensive end right now. It's going to be tough to keep all of this talent on the team when they make their roster cuts, so there is no real need to add anybody else at this point in time.