The perception last season was that Ricky Manning Jr. was overlooked in a big way when seventh-round pick Trumaine McBride was used primarily as a starter in Nathan Vasher’s absence.
It was reality in the sense that starting is a big deal. Whose in the lineup on a week-to-week basis speaks volumes about who the coaching staff believes in most.
But the statistics paint a somewhat different picture. Manning was on the field for 544 of the 1,076 defensive snaps last season. McBride? 584. About the same. It marked a decrease in defensive snaps for Manning of only 55 from 2006, or a little less than one game. Interestingly, Manning was actually on the field more for the Bears in 2007 than he was in 2006 because of an increased role on special teams.
That role doesn’t look to be expanding any time soon, not here anyway. He’s running with the third team right now and has been removed from the nickel unit with Danieal Manning now holding down that spot. It’s early. The Bears are two months and a day away from reporting to training camp in Bourbonnais, but if this holds up much longer he’s going to become serious trade bait.
The issue at hand will be Manning’s contract. He’s on the books for $1.85 million this season but that figure shoots up to $4.75 million in 2009 and rests at $4.55 million in 2010. It’s a situation where a team acquiring him would likely want to rework the numbers (unless it only plans on keeping him for one season, which is unlikely) and it takes two parties to agree to a new deal.
Manning was remarkably upbeat about his situation and says there is no rift whatsoever with the coaching staff. He’s disappointed and wants a chance but didn’t do any finger pointing.
You’d think he is of value but running behind McBride, Corey Graham, probably even rookie Zak Bowman, and the starters, he Bears may see it differently right now.
Stay tuned on this situation.