Israel Idonije would have been in position to reap greater financial rewards had he played out his contract this season and entered free agency.
Since establishing himself with the Bears he's never been unrestricted. Idonije was a restricted free agent when the Buffalo Bills signed him to an $8.2 million, four-year offer sheet in 2006. The Bears matched it and that deal expires after this year with him set to make $1.75 million in base salary for 2009. But instead of focusing on what could be ahead for him in March, Idonije looked to get a deal done now. He signed a $7 million, two-year extension that includes $3 million in guaranteed money, a deal brokered by agent Drew Rosenhaus.
It provides Idonije with a level of security and for the Bears it locks down a player who can play three spots on the line effectively while also being a major special teams contributor.
Idonije will turn 29 during the season and although teams are consistently looking to get younger, his versatility would have been attractive on the open market where he might have received a longer term deal with a few more million dollars guaranteed. Of course, a player has to perform and stay healthy in his contract year to reap rewards.
"My first priority was staying in Chicago,'' Idonije said Friday afternoon. "This will be my seventh season as a Chicago Bears and my No. 1 priority was to stay here and conduct business as usual, get healthy and be ready. That was my focus from top to bottom.''