Phil Emery and the Chicago Bears have had quite the eventful off season so far, and the firing former head coach Lovie Smith and cutting the face of the franchise in Brian Urlacher have been the two biggest moves they have made. Of course, the Bears have made some excellent signings to bolster both their offense and defense, addressing major needs in an effective manner.
One move I have yet to see happen though is the re-signing of underrated and continually improving defensive end Israel Idonije. The last three seasons have been Idonije’s best as a Bear, and it is no coincidence that those have been the three seasons Chicago has had defensive end Julius Peppers on the roster.
Both Idonije and Peppers work well together. Peppers is good enough to handle a double-team, freeing up Idonije for constant quarterback pressures and leading to sacks for either himself or another member of the defense.
Second-year pro Shea McClellin is the third defensive end on the team and showed promise as a rookie last year. He may do just fine as a starter if the Bears were to let Idonije walk, but my guess is that they want to keep their veteran on the roster.
Idonije has averaged about seven sacks over his past three seasons, which is without a doubt the best football he has played his entire career. Before 2010, he hadn’t eclipsed higher than a 3.5 sack total in a single season.
The only other team that I’ve heard had mild interest in the defensive end is the Detroit Lions, who have a gap to fill at defensive end after losing starter Cliff Avril to the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the off season.
The reason I am confident the Lions won’t snag Idonije is because he is simply not dirty enough for them. Clearly, they have something unique going on over there in Detroit on defense, and Idonije just wouldn’t be the type of bush-league player they are looking for.
Still, no move has been made by any team to offer a deal. One guy I’m sure influencing the decision has to be new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. A guy like Idonije fits well into Tucker’s mindset as a coach. Being a versatile end that can line up just about anywhere along the line, Idonije possesses both size and speed.
Hopefully for the sake of the Bears’ defense, they can work out a deal to bring Idonije back on board. Chicago has high hopes for this season after having a great offseason so far, and Idonije can absolutely be a crucial part to their success on defense in 2013. Will the Bears let another well-respected veteran go?