LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Israel Idonije almost became a Buffalo Bill in March 2006.
After breaking into the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2003 as an undrafted free agent, Idonije eventually made his way to Chicago, where he spent the 2004-05 seasons serving as a reserve defensive lineman/special teams contributor.
Despite a limited body of work, the Bills signed Idonije, a restricted free agent in 2006, to a four-year, $8.2 million offer sheet, which the Bears eventually opted to match.
The Bills' pursuit of Idonije was lead by former head coach Dick Jauron and general manager Marv Levy, both of whom have obvious Chicago ties. Jauron coached Idonije with the Bears in 2003, when the defensive lineman was a late season addition to the team's practice squad.
"I was very thankful," Idonije said Wednesday. "Who knows how things would have worked out in that situation, but [Buffalo] definitely [thought] this kid could be a starter in the league and want to bring him in and take a shot [with him]. It was huge.
"So Buffalo will always be part of my story, and the [journey] to where I am today."
Idonije leads the Bears with 4.5 sacks after earning a full-time starting job in Week 2.