With the free agency period set to start on Friday (or Thursday at the stroke of 11:01 PM Chicago time), there are growing rumbles that the Bears figure to be players in the free agent market. This runs contrary to Ted Phillips’ statement that the Bears won’t “go hog wild” in free agency.
You’ll hear big names like Julius Peppers and Antrel Rolle bandied about, but those would be practical choices to address glaring needs for a struggling Bears defense. If I asked you what position is pretty well set from last season, you might answer tight end.
Even though Greg Olsen failed to live up the lofty pre-season expectations, he led the team with receptions (60) and touchdowns (8), the tight end position is hardly a glaring need on a team with many.
Yet, here we go reading that the Bears are targeting Brandon Manumaleuna, the former Chargers tight end who was drafted by Mike Martz’s Rams back to 2001. Manumaleuna is a “hand on the ground” blocking tight end. Sounds like it’s right up Mad Scientist Martz’s alley.
So if the Bears bring in the 295 pound tight end, what does that mean for Olsen? Ever since Martz was brought in, #82’s role on the team has been in question. This directly from Martz on a radio appearance shortly after he was brought on board:
“All tight ends, their first responsibility, they have to put their hand down on the line of scrimmage and be a successful blocker, and then they move to receiving,” Martz said. “To just skip by that and say, ‘He’s a terrific receiver,’ well, then you might as well just put another wide receiver in there.”
It sure seems like Olsen’s days in Chicago are numbered. Olsen has never lived up to his first round draft status, but in previous seasons, it was the supposed inconsistency at the quarterback position that excused his sub-par play. Last season seemed like it was going to be a breakout season for the third year pro, but it never seemed like Ron Turner took advantage of his unique skills to get him the ball in the open field, where he could take advantage of speed in mismatches against linebackers.
It also seemed like Bears opponents stacked the deck against Olsen by putting safeties and nickel backs against him due to a lack of receiving threats by the Bears offense.
If Olsen is to go, it’s been speculated that he might not garner more than a late second or third round pick. If that’s the case, is it worth moving him? If he doesn’t figure into Mike Martz’s plans anyway, should the Bears cut bait and try to get some value in what is considered a deep draft?