NFL Free Agency 2013: Breaking Down Top Defensive Ends on the Market

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 9, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys fumbles the ball after being hit by Michael Bennett #71 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

NFL free agency 2013 is around the corner, and it's time to break down the top defensive ends on the market.

The NFL has become a passing league, and the best way to combat that is through a top pass rush.

Which players can best provide a pass rush to help defenses? Read on to find out.


Israel Idonije, Bears

Israel Idonije is one of the most underrated defensive ends in football.

Last season with the Bears, Idonije had 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He did it with 300 less snaps than Julius Peppers, who had 11.5 sacks.

Idonije is a solid player who also contributes on special teams. He won't get a huge payday, but he'll be a valuable contributor to a lot of teams.


Cliff Avril, Lions

Cliff Avril is a one-dimensional player, but he's pretty good at that one aspect.

He had 9.5 sacks, which is great, but only 35 total tackles. When he's not getting after the passer, he's not doing much else. 

That said, the NFL is a passing league, and you need to combat that with a solid pass rush. Avril can provide that.

Teams will like that dimension of his game, and he'll have a number of suitors this free agency. 


Michael Johnson, Bengals

Michael Johnson had a huge season for the Bengals and will have many teams after him. He had 11.5 sacks last year, and his production is a main reason why the Bengals want to keep him.

According to the Dayton Daily News, the Bengals may place a franchise tag on him.

“I think they’ll get Michael Johnson done,” said Dave Lapham, longtime Bengals color analyst. “If they have to (franchise) tag him, they have to tag him. He’ll definitely be back."


The Bengals obviously don't want to lose him, but if they decide to not franchise him, then a number of teams will be lining up to get a bona fide pass-rusher.

Look for Johnson to get a big payday, whether it's with the Bengals or a new team. 


Michael Bennett, Buccaneers

Michael Bennett is not a household name, but he could be a hot commodity when free agency hits. 

The 27-year-old defense end had nine sacks for the Bucs and was a constant presence in the backfield. He also had 72 quarterback pressures, among the league leaders, and forced three fumbles.

This was Bennett's breakout year, as the former undrafted rookie had only six sacks before this season. Teams may be wary that he's a one-year wonder.

That said, not many players on the market offer Bennett's versatility and skill at getting into the backfield. Many teams will be interested in Bennett, and he could be rewarded with a big payday.