Several members of the Chicago defensive line are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after the 2009 campaign, but Israel Idonije is no longer one of them.
Idonije, a former practice-squad nobody who turned himself into a major contributor on special teams and a versatile performer along the D-line, agreed to a two-year contract extension Friday with the Bears. In 16 games this past season, Idonije was credited with 24 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 6 passes defensed. According to the Twitter feed of his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, the deal includes $7 million in new money and $3 million in guaranteed cash.
While the Manitoba native lined up exclusively at defensive tackle in 2008 and bulked up to over 300 pounds in the process, Idonije is switching back to defensive end – his original position – and hopes to play this year around 265 pounds.
Idonije is switching back to defensive end after playing defensive tackle all of last season.
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With Idonije now inked for the long term and expected to be in the rotation at D-end, it is reasonable to assume either Adewale Ogunleye or Mark Anderson will be sporting a new address next season – maybe even both of them. Ogunleye and Anderson are going into the last year of their contracts, and with the veteran Ogunleye little more than a competent starter these days and the youngster Anderson failing to recapture the magic he displayed as a rookie, the organization shows no signs of committing to them beyond 2009. Like Idonije, third-round draft pick Jarron Gilbert has the flexibility to play either end or tackle, but his permanent home could be at left end should Ogunleye not be extended.
Idonije did a decent job getting after the quarterback last season as a three-technique tackle in the nickel package, so the Bears are now hoping he can improve the pass rush as a reserve end.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.