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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Scramble'11: Soap opera starring Bears TEs

By Kevin Seifert

Who would have pegged the Chicago Bears' tight end position as a preseason source of drama? That's pretty much what has developed Thursday in a matter of hours.

The latest: According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears plan to release tight end Brandon Manumaleuna by the end of the day. That news comes on top of reports the Bears are shopping incumbent Greg Olsen for a trade and have agreed to terms with free agent Matt Spaeth.

I don't know if anyone outside of Halas Hall truly knows what is going on here. We've discussed the likely motivation behind trading Olsen, namely that Mike Martz's offense doesn't place a high value on pass-catching tight ends. But the Bears signed Manumaleuna specifically for this scheme and in large part because of his history with Martz, paying him a contract that guaranteed him $6.1 million.

Manumaleuna is due a roster bonus of $1 million before the start of the regular season. He has struggled with knee injuries and was also fined $22,000 last season for missing team meetings.

Spaeth is mostly known as a blocking tight end and would presumably replace Manumaleuna in that role. Does that mean Olsen will remain with the Bears this season? I don't think Spaeth's arrival changes that question one way or the other. The issue is whether the Bears want to pay market value for a tight end whose skills don't totally fit their system. If they were shopping Olsen this week, chances are they have made up their mind on that question. Stay tuned.

Recent Bears posts: Why would the Bears part ways with Olsen? Adam Podlesh is the Bears' new punter. The team is working offensive line targets. Former punter Brad Maynard voiced surprising animosity toward well-respected special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. The Bears have a tough decision on a contract extension for tailback Matt Forte.