(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
This is one Drew Rosenhaus tweet Bears fans will be happy to see:
"RosenhausSports I am pleased to announce that we have signed Israel Idonije to a 2 year contract extension with the Bears worth $7 million in new money"
Idonije's contract now extends through the 2011 season. The following tweet noted that $3 million of that new money is guaranteed and the Chicago tribune reported that $2 million of that will come in the form of a signing bonus this year.
As the proud owner of an autographed Israel Idonije jersey I couldn’t be happier; all Bears fans should be thrilled.
Despite my earlier prognostication
that the chances weren’t particularly good that Izzy would be locked up Jerry Angelo obviously values his versatility and special teams contributions.
Last season was far and away his best on the defensive side of the ball. After gaining weight—up to 305—in the offseason for a move inside to defensive tackle he posted a career-high 3.5 sacks to go along with six pass deflections.
Unfortunately the extra weight hurt his impact on special teams where he had been one of the teams leading tacklers on coverage teams and lead blockers on kickoff returns.
Idonije had also set a Bears record with blocked kicks in three consecutive games in 2007 and has four overall blocks for his career.
Coming in to 2009 Izzy has dropped back down to 270 and will once again be competing for playing time at defensive end and back to a more expanded role special teams.
With so many unanswered questions at defensive end Jerry Angelo undoubtedly saw this as an opportunity to lock up a proven player who still has room to improve. His versatility goes a long way to saving the Bears crucial roster sports along the defensive line.
"He'll be effectively doubling what his current contract was. He's essentially one of the more highly paid backup defensive lineman in the NFL. Should he develop into a starter at some point in the next year or so, it's a short-term deal. And it creates some flexibility. But for one of the most versatile defensive lineman and an outstanding special teams guy, we think that this deal makes a lot of sense for both sides."
In one very rare occasion I think Rosenhaus is exactly right.
It’s possible Idonije could’ve found more money on the open market—and he may fit better in a 3-4 scheme—but this is deal of familiarity and one you can be sure both sides are thrilled with.