Idonije returning to Chicago Bears on one-year deal

By Dan Wiederer, Tribune reporter

Israel Idonije is headed back to Chicago: After spending the 2013 season as a reserve in Detroit, the veteran defensive lineman has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bears, according to a league source.

Idonije will be returning to the organization where he spent nine seasons of his NFL career.

Idonije came to the league out of Canada and spent the 2003 season on the Browns’ practice squad. He debuted for the Bears in 2004 but was something of a late bloomer, not becoming a regular starter until 2010. Between 2010 and 2012 with the Bears, Idonije made 42 starts and totaled 149 tackles with 20 ½ sacks and five forced fumbles.

He opted to test free agency in 2013 but wound up with the Lions on a minimum salary benefit contract, a deal that included an $840,000 base salary with a $65,000 signing bonus. Idonije produced little in Detroit, with just 11 tackles and a half sack and will now try to revive things back in Chicago where the Bears’ defense has seen an overhaul of its coaching staff and personnel since the end of the 2012 season when Idonije was last here.

Idonije will turn 34 in November and should offer the Bears’ defense some versatility, able to play both end and tackle for a unit that expects to keep a 4-3 front but is promising to shake up and get creative with its alignments.

His return was good news for linebacker Lance Briggs, who tweeted a “welcome back” to his former teammate.

dwiederer@tribune.comTwitter @danwiederer

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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