LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears agreed Tuesday to a one-year contract with defensive lineman Israel Idonije and are bringing him back for a second stint.
They also released receiver Earl Bennett and added depth at safety, agreeing to one-year deals with Craig Steltz and Danny McCray.
Idonije spent last season with Detroit after playing his first nine for Chicago. He had just 11 tackles and a half-sack with the Lions, but played some of the best ball of his career toward the end of his time with the Bears.
He had 20 ½ sacks over his last three seasons with Chicago. At 33, he doesn't give the Bears the youth they're seeking. But with his ability to play end or tackle, he does provide the versatility they're looking for as they revamp a struggling defense.
A third-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt in 2008, Bennett had 185 catches for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was a favorite target of Jay Cutler, his college teammate, but he also has a history of concussions. With Bennett gone, Marquess Wilson becomes the favorite for the third receiver spot behind stars Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Steltz, a fourth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2008, made one start last season and had one pass break-up along with 14 tackles and 14 special teams tackles. McCray was mainly a special teams contributor during his four seasons with Dallas. He had eight defensive and eight special teams tackles last season.
The Bears have been busy of late, releasing defensive end Julius Peppers and bringing back cornerback Charles Tillman on a one-year deal. They have two new ends in Willie Young and Lamarr Houston, and they've also added Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to the mix at safety.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL