Bears interested in re-signing Idonije

Israel Idonije had 7.5 sacks last season, second on the Bears. onathan Daniel/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Chicago Bears are interested in re-signing veteran defensive end Israel Idonije for at least another season, general manager Phil Emery said Thursday.

"He's done a number of good things and had a number of good games both outside and inside," Emery said. "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."

The Bears re-signed Idonije last offseason to a one-year deal worth a total of $2.5 million and he finished second on the team with 7.5 sacks.

A nine-year NFL veteran, Idonije has spent almost his entire career in Chicago where he began as a core special teams contributor and later blossomed into a full-time starting defensive end by 2010.

Corey Wootton eventually moved into the starting lineup at end for the final seven games last season, but Idonije's versatility allowed him to bounce inside and play defensive tackle in the nickel package. Idonije has 20.5 sacks over the past three years and is traditionally one of the top tacklers on the defensive line.

Although younger defensive ends such as Wootton and Shea McClellin remain under contract with the Bears, tackles Henry Melton, Amobi Okoye and Nate Collins (restricted free agent) are, like Idonije, scheduled to hit the open market next month. Melton is a candidate to receive the franchise tag.

With potential turnover looming on the line, it makes sense for the Bears to explore bringing Idonije back if the two sides can agree on the terms of the contract.

Idonije is also active in the community and was one of the three finalists for the 2010 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.