Chicago Sun-Times

Tuesday night wrapup: RMJ didn't get job done on practice field

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So where did it go wrong for Ricky Manning Jr.?

He wasn't the defensive back whose blown assignment gave up a touchdown that got the Indianapolis Colts back into Super Bowl XLI.

The Bears signed Manning away from the Carolina Panthers as a restricted free agent in April 2006. He got a five-year deal that maxed out at $21 million, but didn't come close to banking that cash. The deal became smaller if Manning didn't hit certain play-time levels that more or less required him to be a starting cornerback.

Manning was well-liked by teammates but got into the doghouse early last season for his practice habits. It's the little things that coaches drill day in and day out that players need to heed. He had been a player who showed up on Sundays and then in 2007, like some other players on defense, Manning struggled. The writing was on the wall when rookie seventh-round pick Trumaine McBride was selected as a fill-in starter instead of him. You got the sense during minicamp where this thing was headed, that his departure was just a matter of time. He was happy to finally be cut loose.

Manning expressed some of those sentiments when he visited with Mac, Jurko and Harry this afternoon on ESPN-1000. Check out that interview right here.

It's not like Manning was going to cost much had he been the nickel corner. He already collected on a $100,000 workout bonus in the spring and was due to earn a base salary of $1.85 million. He had a roster bonus of $200,000 for next season and another $100,000 workout bonus. His base pay was under $2 million again. Had he maxed out the playing time levers, he would have earned $4.75 million in base pay, but he had already missed the boat on that. So, it wasn't a money issue. Just an issue of a player falling out of favor. As a vested veteran, he's free to sign with anyone and does not have to go through the waiver process.

For what it's worth, here is the money Manning collected with the Bears:

2006

$1.585 million base salary
$100,000 workout bonus
$5 million roster bonus

2007

$1.065 million base salary
$100,000 workout bonus
$1 million roster bonus

2008

$100,000 workout bonus


*** There's been considerable outcry regarding the Bears' decision to offer Fred Miller a one-year contract for the minimum-salary benefit of $830,000. Thing is, I don't recall Miller missing any blocks when the offensive line was overrun in Seattle less than two weeks ago.

Miller has an offer from Tampa Bay and he said Washington and Baltimore are in the mix. The feeling in the Bears' locker room is Miller will not play this season unless it is for the Bears. He returned from Tampa to go to his son's football practice. He's helping coach the team. That's the kind of tie to a community that would make it hard for a 35-year-old to sign on elsewhere, even if it's just for one season.

Bringing Miller back will probably cost one young offensive lineman a job. Looks like Kirk Barton, the Ohio State product, has the best shot at sticking right now although the team likes Chester Adams, another seventh-round pick, as a prospect. Undrafted free agent Cody Balogh has done better than expected.

Cutting ties with Manning cleared a space on the 75-man roster to sign Miller.

*** Coach Lovie Smith ruled defensive end Mark Anderson (right thumb) and long snapper Pat Mannelly (neck stinger) out for Thursday's game at Cleveland. Smith wouldn't share his plan for how long the starters will play but as cautious as the Bears have been about injuries, it will not be long.

*** Peyton Manning put his surgically repaired knee to the test earlier today, practicing for the first time this summer.

Defensive end Dwight Freeney and safety Bob Sanders have also healed up for the Colts. Here's who might miss the Sept. 7 opener vs. the Bears though--center Jeff Saturday is out with an injured right knee and left guard Ryan Lilja is still on the physically unable to perform list following offseason knee surgery.

So Manning is returning to an offensive line that could be at 3/5 normal strength. Veteran Charlie Johnson would figure to replace Lilja, if necessary. He's adequate. Rookie Steve Justice might be called on to fill in for Saturday. That could make for a trying Sunday for Manning with all of those shotgun snaps. Stay tuned on this one.


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3 Comments

Bears would be no worse off to keep Balogh and invest snaps in a new right tackle. I am starting to lose patience with Angelo's moves.

Brad,

You are right, Miller did not miss any blocks this preseason ... he DID miss a whole hell of a lot blocks last season however.

Bears would be better off developing talent at the position to someday step in for Tait. Barton has looked good and can play at an NFL level.

Each NFL team tries to improve its roster in the off-season, either through free agency or the draft.
How is this Bears team any better than it was at 7-9 last season?!?!?!?!
Name ONE player who makes this team better.
Jerry Angelo should be fired.
Such incompetence makes me wonder if Bears ownership is trying to pull a "Major League" ploy on us Bears fans.
Pathetic.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 26, 2008 11:41 PM.

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