Chicago Bears: Steve Maneri

Bears waive Maneri; Palmer visits

October, 21, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears have released tight end Steve Maneri to make room on the 53-man roster for veteran quarterback Jordan Palmer, who is en route to Chicago to take a physical, Bears general manager Phil Emery told reporters at Halas Hall on Monday.

If Palmer passes the physical, as expected, he will sign a contract to serve as the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback behind Josh McCown for as long as starting quarterback Jay Cutler is sidelined with a groin tear -- the team announced Cutler will be out a minimum of four weeks and will then be evaluated week-to-week. Palmer impressed the Bears during his stint with the club in the preseason but failed to make the final cut as the organization decided to carry just two quarterbacks on the active roster.

Palmer completed 11 of 17 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown in the Bears’ preseason finale versus the Cleveland Browns.

Maneri signed a two-year contract with the Bears in March after starting eight games for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. Maneri began the year on the club’s active game-day roster but had been inactive the past three weeks.

Maneri’s departure leaves the Bears with only two tight ends currently on the roster -- Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario. However, the Bears could choose to elevate 6-foot-6 tight end Fendi Onobun from the practice squad if the team is concerned about depth at the position. That would require a corresponding roster move.

The Bears also terminated the practice squad contract of wide receiver Ricardo Lockette on Monday, according to Emery.

Wilson on spot to find special teams role

August, 11, 2013
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Wide receiver Marquess Wilson's sole responsibility in three years at Washington State was to catch the football, a job the Chicago Bears’ 2013 seventh-round draft choice excelled at.

[+] EnlargeMarquess Wilson
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneThe Bears' Marquess Wilson, center, runs for a long gain after a catch against the Panthers on Friday.
Wilson left school as the Cougars’ all-time leader in receiving yards (3,207), while ranking second in school history in receptions (189) and touchdown catches (23). Those numbers look even more impressive when you factor in that Wilson played in only 33 career games with 27 starts before leaving the team last year after a fallout with WSU head coach Mike Leach.

Wilson flashed in the Bears’ first preseason game with an impressive 58-yard catch in Carolina.

But one area Wilson did not contribute in college was on special teams, a phase of the game that almost every NFL reserve player must embrace in order to earn a spot in the 53-man roster. Wilson said the Bears are taking a look at him on the punt (gunner) and kickoff team.

“It was different coming from college where I never played special teams, Wilson said. “But (I’ll do) anything to get on the field.”

Bears head coach Marc Trestman stressed on Sunday the importance of Wilson making a mark on special teams. Otherwise, can the Bears afford to carry him on the 53-man roster?

“I think the truth of it is and the content of it is he’s shown he can do it (special teams) and then he’ll fall off and then we’ll have to pick him up again,” Trestman said. “He’s got to understand it’s so important for him to be a special teams player for us if he becomes a fourth or a fifth wide receiver and he is competing to be a fourth or a fifth wide receiver and you can see what Joe Anderson and Eric Weems do for us. That’s part of the job for a receiver that is not one of the top three, he’s got to be an active special teams player and give us the kind of play that Joe and Eric give us on special teams at this point.

“So, he’s just starting to understand the importance. I have seen him out there and when he’s active and when he’s focused he shows that he has the ability to do it. He’s a young player, he’s probably never done it before but he’s got to recognize how important it is because of where he would be on the roster presently to make special teams a priority as all the guys who are looking for roster spots who are not starters. We talk about that every day and I think it’s become clearer to him now and I think we’re going to see more because he’s shown flashes of it in practice.”

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Bears: Another tight end?

April, 15, 2013
Let's review the timeline while we have a moment.

In January, general manager Phil Emery admits the Chicago Bears need to improve their mid-range passing game, an area often reserved for tight ends.

Hours after the free-agent market opens in March, the Bears sign veteran tight end Martellus Bennett to a four-year contract. Veteran Steve Maneri, meanwhile, signs a one-year contract.

As the April 25 draft approaches, a number of respected mock drafters -- including ESPN's Todd McShay and the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei -- predict the Bears will make Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert the No. 20 overall pick of the draft. Meanwhile, Michael C. Wright of reports the Bears have genuine interest in Stanford tight end Zach Ertz.

So what's going on here? Have the mock drafters forgotten about Bennett and Maneri? Do they really think the Bears would use one of their five draft picks to further stock the tight end position when more pressing short- and long-term needs exist at other positions?

Here's what I can tell you: The Bears aren't just working back from a deficit at the position. Statistically speaking, at least, they had one of the worst tight end situations in the NFL last season. As the chart shows, Bears tight ends had the NFL's lowest production in terms of receptions. Only two teams targeted their tight ends fewer times than the Bears.

Can Bennett alone spark a turnaround? (Maneri is generally considered a blocking tight end.) That might be a lot of pressure to put on one player who has caught more than 20 passes in only two of his five seasons. And it's worth noting that Bennett's contract, ostensibly worth $20.4 million, is probably better viewed as a one-year deal worth $5.315 million. Bennett's 2014 salary includes $4 million guaranteed for injury only, which means the Bears could release him if he is healthy after the 2013 season without owing him more money. (It will be guaranteed for skill as well as injury if he is on the roster on the third day of the 2014 league year.)

I don't think you could argue that tight end is the Bears' top need entering the draft. On the other hand, everything must be viewed in context. The Bears' pick at No. 20 overall puts them in good position to select the best tight end in the draft. Indeed, over the past 10 drafts, 10 tight ends have been selected in the first round. Only two, Vernon Davis in 2006 and Kellen Winslow in 2004, were selected higher than No. 20.

Pass-catching tight ends are a requirement in modern-day NFL offenses, and last year the Bears didn't have one. If they are serious about making it a strength of their offense, perhaps they do need more than one.

Bears sign ex-Chiefs TE Maneri

March, 21, 2013
Steve Maneri Kim Klemen/-USA TODAY SportsSteve Maneri played the past two seasons for the Chiefs.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed blocking tight end Steve Maneri to a two-year deal, the team announced on Thursday.

The Bears, Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys were the most aggressive in their pursuit of Maneri, while the Cincinnati Bengals showed varying degrees of interest, according to a league source.

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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears and Houston Texans are the frontrunners to land former Kansas City Chiefs blocking tight end Steve Maneri, a league source told

The Chicago Tribune first reported the Bears' interest in Maneri.

Maneri started eight games and played over 400 snaps for the Chiefs last season.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys have also expressed interest in the 6-foot-6, 280-pound tight end, but the Bears and Texans have been the most aggressive suitors, the source said.

Maneri, a college teammate with Bears second-year tight end Evan Rodriguez at Temple University, did not receive an exclusive rights free agent tender from the Chiefs.

The Bears are looking to replace blocking tight end Matt Spaeth who signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday after visiting the Bengals last week. Another ex-Bears tight end Kellen Davis is now believed to be under consideration by the Bengals, who are clearly interested in adding a blocking tight end in free agency.