|ESPN.com: NFC North||[Print without images]|
Chicago contract negotiator Cliff Stein was a pretty busy man this week, and his work culminated in the announcement of seven contract agreements Friday.
At the top of the list was defensive lineman Israel Idonije, who signed a two-year extension to a contract that would have expired after this season. Idonije's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, announced on his Twitter feed that the deal adds $7 million to the original contract and includes $3 million in guarantees. Interestingly, Rosenhaus also tweeted: "Hopefully we can have the same type of success with Israel's teammate Adewale Ogunleye."
Ogunleye's contract is due to expire after this season. Agreeing with Ogunleye could be more difficult; you have to assume that a deal for a backup defensive lineman is easier than a starting defensive end who might be approaching his final contract.
As for Idonije, Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune noted recently noted a weight loss at the behest of new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli -- who prefers lean defensive linemen for pass-rushing purposes. Idonije is at 270 pounds and on his way to 266 after playing last season at 306 pounds.
As an aside, it's so interesting to watch the cyclical of coaching philosophies in football. Marinelli asked the same thing of his defensive linemen while he was in Detroit. But the Lions' new coaching regime believes they are too light and are asking everyone to gain weight this offseason to stand up against the run better.
Meanwhile, the Bears also agreed to terms with six of their draft choices, leaving their top three picks -- defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, receiver Juaquin Iglesias and defensive end Henry Melton -- unsigned with training camp still two months away. There are no prizes for signing draft picks early, but for the record, the Bears currently lead the NFL in that category.