Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 6/25/13

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 08: Israel Idonije #71 of the Chicago Bears reacts during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on November 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 41-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Israel Idonije’s lingering presence on the free-agent market was one of the more confounding developments of the offseason. With nine years of NFL experience, 50 career starts and 20.5 sacks over the past three seasons, Idonije appeared to be one of the top remaining defenders left unsigned. And now, he might be another huge part of a loaded Detroit defensive front. Idonije signed a one-year deal with the Lions on Tuesday, as first reported by Pro Football Talk, giving Detroit yet another option along the defensive line. With Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Jason Jones, Willie Young and first-round pick Ziggy Ansah already in tow, Idonije simply adds to the possibilities for defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. The Lions headed into the offseason looking as if they might be in big trouble on the D-line. They cut Kyle Vanden Bosch and 2012 franchise-tag player Cliff Avril bolted in free agency. It has not taken Detroit long to regroup, though — and the success the franchise has had in doing so in such short order proves why the Lions were so reluctant to break the bank for Avril. Suh and Fairley (especially if Fairley picks up in 2013 where he left off in 2012) could form one of the NFL’s most dangerous tackle duos. Ansah, Young, Idonije and Jones, meanwhile, give Detroit four players capable of getting to the quarterback off the edge. Better yet, both Idonije and Jones can play inside — the latter has done better work there than at end, in fact — so the Lions should be able to mix-and-match their pieces, in order to keep everyone fresh and force offensive lines to adjust. The two most obvious options for how to utilize Idonije are: 1. As a placeholder while the raw Ansah comes along — the two are similar in skill set and size, so Idonije could rotate in frequently while Ansah adjusts to the NFL game. 2. As one of the main DEs, thus allowing Jones to play at the DT spot, replacing Fairley and Suh in spurts. That would give Detroit a starting four of Idonije, Suh, Fairley and Ansah, with Young and Jones key reserves. No matter which way Detroit opts to go here, there is little downside to adding Idonije, especially since he comes over from a division rival in Chicago. His experience will help offset the loss of Vanden Bosch — and his play will ease the pain caused by Vanden Bosch and Avril no longer being on the roster. There may be trouble spots among the Lions’ depth chart. The defensive line is not one of them, and that’s even more true now with Idonije in the fold.
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