Thursday, February 20, 2014
Meet the free agents: DE Israel Idonije
By Michael Rothstein
Every day we'll take a look at one of the Detroit Lions heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team and a prognosis on whether he'll be back with the club in 2014.
To see all the Meet the Free Agents to date, click this link.
To see the Meet the Free Agents series thus far, click this link.
Free agent to be: Israel Idonije
Position: Defensive end
Years in the league: 10
What he made last season: $620,000 (cap value); $905,000 (cash value); $840,000 (base salary); $65,000 (signing bonus). $420,000 of it was guaranteed.
What he did last season: Not a ton. In his first year with Detroit after spending his entire career with Chicago, Idonije had 11 tackles and a half-sack -- his lowest tackle output of his career. His 313 snaps were his fewest since 2009. He mostly spelled Willie Young and Ziggy Ansah on the outside in situations in the middle of the field throughout the season. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 23 quarterback hurries, which isn't bad considering the amount of snaps he played.
His potential market value: Probably not much. Idonije is an older veteran whose production plummeted in his first season not in the Bears system. He is one of the older defensive end free agents on the market and if he is willing to take the minimum with a reduced cap number, then he could be helpful to a team needing a veteran presence. Otherwise, it could be tough finding Idonije a home in 2014.
Will he fit the Lions still: Probably not. The Lions have three defensive ends returning in Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor and Jason Jones. If the team chooses to bring back Willie Young, then they would have four defensive ends and would likely look for a drafted player or a younger free agent. Idonije's production just didn't match what the team had likely hoped to get out of him. PFF graded him out with a high plus rating in only one game last season. Now if the team were to not re-sign Young and release Jones, then maybe they would bring Idonije back as a versatile veteran, but if Jones remains on the roster, his ability to play multiple spots on the line likely means Idonije won't have a place with the Lions.
What happens: Idonije might still get looks from teams looking for a veteran defensive end, especially since he was playing at a high level as late as 2012. The Lions, depending what happens in free agency and the draft, could be interested late in the process like they were a season ago, when Idonije was signed in June to a one-year deal. His character -- he was one of the most stand-up players on Detroit last season -- could also be difficult to replace and could be a reason he latches on somewhere in 2014.