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Israel Idonije says he wants to retire with Bears
Veteran defensive lineman Israel Idonije wants to play two or three more years in the NFL and he hopes that they’re spent in Chicago with the Bears.
That’s what Idonije, who has been with the Bears since 2004, said during an interview on 670 The Score with Laurence Holmes on Thursday night. Idonije is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday and should garner plenty of interest from around the league.
“I grew up here in Chicago,” Idonije said. “I was 21 years old when I first came to this fine city. At 21, I didn’t know up from down. To grow up to be a man here and mature in the city of Chicago and to be mentored by leaders in our city, it would be tough to spend two years, three years in another city and learning, kind of rebuilding your network somewhere else.
“Even though ultimately I’ll be back in Chicago when I retire from the game — Chicago is going to be home — my priority is to stay here and enjoy these next few years in Chicago with my friends, my family and with my organization.”
Idonije said he knows football is “a business” and that other teams will be interested in him. But general manager Phil Emery definitely wants Idonije to return. It’s just a matter of making the numbers work. The Bears have little cap space right now, especially after franchise-tagging defensive tackle Henry Melton ($8.45 million).
“[Idonije has] done a number of good things and had a number of good games both outside and inside,” Emery said during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “He’s a guy we will sit down with and talk to about coming back. He’s got versatility and that’s a positive thing for Izzy. He’s done a good job for us.”
Idonije, 32, may have lost his starting spot this season to defensive end Corey Wootton, but he still saw as many snaps rotating in at end and defensive tackle.
Idonije, a valuable leader and locker-room presence, emerged as a starter in 2010, recording 20.5 sacks in the past three seasons. He met with new coach Marc Trestman last week and came away very impressed.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things [about Trestman],” Idonije said on The Score. “I loved his philosophy on excellence and winning and his approach to the game. Just all in all, he came off as a man of character, a man with a plan focused on really putting a team together, a group of men together that are going to be focused on winning football games. I walked away from that meeting with coach Trestman really with a good feeling.”