When the Detroit Lions have an opportunity to improve their roster, they take it. They have done it again, this time by adding free agent defensive lineman Israel Idonije according to Pro Football Talk.
Despite playing very well for the Chicago Bears a year ago, Idonije didn’t receive much interest from them and the rest of the free agent market was inexplicably cool. Pro Football Focus gave Idonije a +17.8 rating, better than Bears teammates Julius Peppers (+9.9) and Henry Melton (+15.8) and he got it with solid ratings rushing the passer and playing the run.
That kind of balanced production is exactly what the Lions need and Idonije possesses the kind of versatility they love. At 6’6″ and 275 pounds, he can line up both inside and out.
This move has to be seen as more than a churn of the bottom-end of the roster as Idonije is a proven NFL player still producing at a good level. That is bad news for a player like Ronnell Lewis who is just trying to make the 53-man roster. With Jason Jones, Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Willie Young in place, the addition of Idonije could be enough to squeeze out Lewis.
The defensive end roster and rotation watch just got a lot more interesting. While Idonije is capable of playing inside, so too is Jason Jones who has actually been more productive inside than out. The Lions have been consistent in saying they signed Jones to play on the outside but that is less of a necessity with Idonije in the fold. The addition also allows the Lions to be more patient with Ansah and Taylor, allowing them to play as their development justifies.