The Detroit Lions have signed veteran free-agent defensive end Israel Idonije, according to Pro Football Talk. The move has not yet been confirmed by the team, and a corresponding move has not yet been announced.
The Lions already know Idonije quite well considering he played for the Chicago Bears from 2004-12. Essentially his entire career has been with the Bears up until now, and he is changing teams in the NFC North after having one of his best seasons. In 2012, he started 11 games and played in all 16, and he put up big numbers by recording 48 tackles and 7.5 sacks.
Perhaps even more impressive than his stats is that Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of +17.8 for his play in 2012. He was ranked as the sixth-best free-agent edge defender this year, and PFF applauded his run defense and ability to "rush the passer from inside and out." PFF said that a team would be "getting good value" if they sign Idonije to a one-year deal, and the Lions have done just that.
With Idonije joining the Lions, they now have another veteran defensive end to go along with Jason Jones. It's fitting that I just wrote on Tuesday morning about how I'd like the Lions to sign another veteran defensive end, but it seemed like they were comfortable with their current group of players at the position. Clearly that wasn't the case, as the Lions have bolstered a rotation that now includes Idonije, Jones, Ziggy Ansah, Willie Young and Devin Taylor.
It's not clear right now what this move means for Ronnell Lewis. If Idonije and Jones strictly play defensive end, there won't be room on the 53-man roster for Lewis. If Idonije and Jones get time inside at defensive tackle, though, perhaps the Lions could find room to keep an extra defensive end. Either way, the Lions have some excellent depth at defensive end with Idonije joining the team.