(WSCR) Free agent defensive end Israel Idonije is making his intentions completely clear: He only wants to play two or three more years and he wants to do it in Chicago.
“I grew up here in Chicago,” Idonije told 670 The Score’s Laurence Holmes. “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.”
LISTEN: Israel Idonije With Laurence Holmes
Idonije, 32, still thinks he has some good years left, but he also has other priorities so he’s not looking to sign for too long.
“I’ve really only started three years so I have a lot of good football left, but I have a lot things outside of football that I’m doing so my commitment to the time to train and all those things, I really only want to do that for another two or three years before I move on,” he said.
The Bears would like to bring back Idonije, but the biggest hurdle will be cap space. After placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Henry Melton, the team only has a little under $4 million in cap space to work with.
But if they are able to bring Idonije back, the defensive end is looking forward to playing for new head coach Marc Trestman.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things,” Idonije said about Trestman. “I had a chance to sit down with him last week. 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.”
Idonije is a Canadian native and no stranger to the Canadian Football League where Trestman previously coached. He called the Montreal Alouettes an “offensive machine” while speaking on The Score.
“If (Trestman is) able to take that approach he had with making (the Alouettes) successful and implement some of that — the things that translate and correlate to the NFL game — if he’s able to bring that to our organization and increase the production while our defense and special teams maintain their level of play, it’s going to be a really special year,” Idonije said.
And not surprisingly, he believes that includes Brian Urlacher.
“When you start talking about the offense getting better and maintaining defensive success, Brian Urlacher has to be a piece of that equation,” Idonije told Holmes. “You take him out of that situation and things change. I think Brian is going to be back.”
While much has been made about Urlacher adapting to a new coaching staff, Idonije believes the linebacker fits in perfectly with the new regime.
“When I listen to Coach Trestman talking about men of character, guys who are going to come in and work hard and really embody everything that he envisions the team to be, at the top of that list is Brian,” Idonije said. “So I think they’re going to look to really get him back and ultimately his heart is here. He wants to be here.”