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Free-agent scouting report: Bears DE Israel Idonije

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

This is the 34th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.

News: Idonije, 31, is due to become an unrestricted free agent as he heads into his ninth NFL season. It's believed that he would like to stay with the Bears, and the team would welcome him back at the right price. He is a favorite among members of the coaching staff and some powerful members of the front office. However, he could get a chance to gauge his value on the open market, and the Bears could also pursue a free agent who can provide greater production from the left defensive end spot.

Notes: Idonije has had to be patient his whole career, but he's never relented in his pursuit of success and has become a civic leader in the Chicago area and abroad through his foundation work. He wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine in 2003 and did not get drafted. The Browns, the only team that attended his pro day in Manitoba, waived him after he suffered an injury, and he landed on the Bears' practice squad. He earned a spot on the active roster as a backup D-lineman and special-teamer but didn't become a full-time starter until his seventh season in the league, when the Bears released DE Mark Anderson and Idonije took over as the starting left end opposite Julius Peppers. Idonije has recorded 13 sacks (five in '11 and eight in '10) over the past two seasons — Peppers is the only Bears player with more (19) over that span — and has started 33 straight games, including the postseason.

Positives: Great size and length. Strong at the point of attack and will hold his ground. Flashes power. Very sound tackler. Smart, hardworking and disciplined. Will not quit on plays — battles to the whistle. Good closing speed. Has the versatility to move inside. Has long arms and leaping ability to block field goals. Durable. Outstanding character.

Negatives: Lacks elite burst and suddenness. Consistently faced one-on-one matchups playing opposite Peppers and got neutralized too often. Not the most creative pass rusher. Has limited moves and countermoves. Not a top-tier producer. Plays too upright at times and loses leverage.

Risk factor: He's on the wrong side of 30 and is not an elite pass rusher, but Idonije should be an attractive option for a team looking for a solid, dependable D-lineman with the ability to play multiple positions up front in a 4-3 defense. Teams know what they're getting in Idonije, and the risk factor here is very low.

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