Every NFL team can always use more defensive linemen. Each year defensive tackles and ends are some of the top targets in free agency to help stuff the run, improve the pass rush or just to add depth. 2013 is no different. There will be big names, up-and-comers and older veterans all available once free agency gets under way.
Some of these players will stay put, signing new deals or getting hit with the franchise tag, but several will be available and demand a good price for their services. The top free agent defensive linemen are listed below:
Cliff Avril: The pass-rushing defensive end was franchised by the Detroit Lions last year, making him a free agent for the second consecutive offseason. Avril, 26, had another strong year in 2012 with 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. If the Lions don't sign him to a long-term deal, the money needed to franchise him again and keep him in Detroit may be too much.
Michael Johnson: An athletic freak at 6'7, 270 pounds, the 25-year-old Johnson is coming off his best season with the Bengals, finally realizing his potential. In 2012 he recorded 52 tackles, 11.5 sacks, defended two passes and made one interception.
Henry Melton: Melton has become an important part of the Chicago defense and is coming off his best season at age 26. He was named to his first Pro Bowl with 43 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles from the defensive tackle position this past season.
Dwight Freeney: Although he switched to outside linebacker in 2012, the longtime Colts defensive end can still get to the quarterback. He had his worst season in 2012 with only 12 tackles and five sacks, but the 32-year-old still has gas in his tank and could still succeed in the right system.
Randy Starks: A versatile lineman who has played both defensive end and nose tackle, Starks, 29, is effective as both a run-stopper and pass-rusher. In 2012 he recorded 27 tackles, 4.5 sacks, defended four passes and had one interception for the Dolphins.
Osi Umenyiora: The longtime New York Giant will likely be looking for a new home this offseason as he wants to be an every-down defensive end at age 31. If he remains in New York, he'll be part of a platoon and primarily used in passing situations. In 2012 he had 43 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles while only starting in four games.
Michael Bennett: Bennett has come a long way from undrafted rookie in 2009 to become one of the top free agent defensive ends in 2013. The 27-year-old had his best season by far in 2012 with 41 tackles, nine sacks, and three forced fumbles for Tampa Bay.
Desmond Bryant: Another solid player from football powerhouse Harvard, Bryant, 27, has put together some good seasons for the Raiders. The defensive tackle had 36 tackles and four sacks in 2012 after signing a one-year deal with Oakland last offseason.
Richard Seymour: Seymour may not be what he once was, but the 33-year-old defensive tackle still has some years left. He missed the last eight games of the season in 2012 with hamstring and knee injuries, but recorded 15 tackles and three sacks in the eight games he did play for the Raiders.
Complete list of 2013 free agent defensive linemen
All players are unrestricted free agents except where noted.
Kenyon Coleman, DE
L.P. Ladouceur, DE
Shaun Cody, DT
Tony McDaniel, DT
Randy Starks, DT
Mike DeVito, DE