It should be a surprise to no one who is paying attention that Danieal Manning is likely to hit the free agent market. Manning, who actually failed to show up for workouts before singing his tender last offseason, has a rather inflated idea of what he should be getting. Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune reports:
“The team extended a three-year offer in December, but it evidently fell short of Manning’s expectations.
“‘It just wasn’t an offer I thought I deserved,’ Manning said. ‘But when they gave me the offer, I didn’t want to worry about it. I just wanted to play the season out and hopefully win the Super Bowl. That was my focus.”’
Kudos to him for that. And in fairness he did have a solid season, rarely making mistakes that have plagued him in the past. He’s also a pretty good kick returner.
But the Bears, who have always been good at finding strong safeties, really needed the athletic Manning to come through at free safety. When it became evident that this wasn’t going to happen, they traded for Chris Harris and played him out of position. With any luck, Major Wright will be taking that role in the future and Harris can move over to strong safety where he belongs. That leaves Manning without a position.
The Bears would undoubtedly like to keep Manning in the role he’s in. That is, as one of three safeties all of whom provide decent depth and stabilize the position as a group. In that respect, Manning is a valuable contributor.
Having said that, he manages to find a significantly better offer, more power to him. But I think he might be disappointed in the free agent market. As McClure points out, things are likely to be a bit flat as long as the labor uncertainty persists. In addition, though Manning may find a team who values him a little more highly, I doubt any offer will be all that better than what the Bears have already put on the table. By the time he finds that out, it may be too late to return.
Bottom line, I think we fans may have seen the last of him in Chicago.