Ifedi understood he has to prove plenty in 2020, which was made clear when Seattle let him walk in free agency and Chicago signed him to a one-year deal in March. So he set course for this pivotal year back in January by beginning to train with Hall of Fame tackle Bruce Matthews and Falcons tackle Jake Matthews, a friend from Texas A&M.
"I wanted to work," Ifedi said. "Last year left a bad taste on my mouth for different reasons, but we just got back to working. We’ve been working on the field. We get to do one-on-ones. We’ve bull-rushed each other so many damn times. We’re so sick of each other at this point.
"If you know you’re investing every day, you’re on the right track."
The Seahawks drafted Ifedi at No. 31 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. He started 60 games with Seattle, primarily playing at tackle, but he's eyeing a different position in Chicago. The Bears have an opening at right guard, and Ifedi has the inside track in the competition after signing a one-year deal that will pay him $910,000 in base salary.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace had coveted Ifedi back in the 2016 draft and kept an eye on him since.
"We’ve kept close tabs on him," Pace said in April after the signing became official. "He’s a talented player — 36-inch arms, highly intelligent. I know (Bears offensive line coach) Juan Castillo is really high on this player, too and how he feels he can make him better, which we’re confident in. So we’re excited to get him where we got him."
Hired as the Bears' new offensive line coach in January, Castillo was a strong advocate for bringing Ifedi to Chicago.
"Here’s a guy who's 6-foot-6, 335 pounds, that’s got some god-given ability, that’s got some big heart, that’s tough, that wants to be good," Castillo said. "Am I excited? Oh, buddy, I'm, excited. Let me tell you, he’s been working his ass off. Working his ass off. So, I am excited about him."
Once the Bears get back on the field amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ifedi's challenge will be to settle in comfortably between and mesh with returning starters in center Cody Whitehair and right tackle Bobby Massie. The communication will need to be strong, especially considering the Bears' offensive line struggled in 2019.
Ifedi also must prove he's capable at right guard, a position with which he's familiar but lacking in reps. The Bears believe Ifedi still holds the potential they recognized before the 2016 draft.
He appreciates that and is embracing this opportunity.
"I want to reach the next level," Ifedi said. "I want to be all that. But I just know it’s an everyday investment, everyday challenge."