This transaction got lost in the news cycle somewhat thanks to last week's NFL Draft, but on April 16, the Chicago Bears made a key offseason decision by re-signing defensive back Sherrick McManis. While he only received a one-year deal, McManis will keep his title as the team's longest-tenured player (ninth season). His experience and the role he plays for this team are pretty much irreplaceable. Here are five reasons why the Bears made sure to keep McManis in the fold.
As the longest-tenured player on the team, McManis has worn the navy blue and orange since 2012. He's lasted through three coaching changes, and his status as a primary role player affirms his value to the team. He began his career with the Houston Texans in 2010, and he was traded to Chicago in exchange for fullback Tyler Clutts at the end of the 2012 preseason. It was a homecoming of sorts as McManis played his college ball at Northwestern (2006-09). McManis grew up in Peoria, Illinois, which is roughly three hours southwest of Chicago. McManis' 108 games played are the most by any Bears player in the last decade (2010-19).
2. His role on the team
He's been the Bears' special teams captain for the past several years and serves as the ace for the team's coverage units. He also provides valuable depth for the defense, which is the heart and soul of this Bears team. McManis is looked to for leadership because of his longevity and he's been durable for the most part (has played in double-digit games in eight of his 10 previous seasons), although he missed the last five games of last season because of a groin injury.
McManis return provides both experience and depth to a secondary that's in transition. The Bears parted ways with cornerback Prince Amukamara at the start of the offseason and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix left in free agency. Right now, Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine are expected to start at cornerback with Eddie Jackson and Deon Bush projected as the safeties. Chicago drafted a pair of cornerbacks last week (Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor) and signed another (former Steeler Artie Burns, former CFL standout Tre Roberson) in free agency. That's three rookies making the transition to the NFL and another newcomer to the team. McManis will not only be able to help the new guys get familiar and comfortable with the system and show them the ropes, but his ability to play both corner and safety also will come in handy as the pecking order for both positions comes into more focus during training camp and the preseason.
In 131 career games as a reserve player, McManis has made 142 tackles, seven pass deflections, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one sack. Since 2015, McManis has recorded 45 special teams tackles, which ranks him fourth in the NFL during that stretch.
Production, depth, experience, durability, dependability, and leadership aside, the consistency that McManis brings to the field every Sunday and in practice or the meeting room every week is something that isn't always coachable. The Bears have won 57 games since McManis joined the team, and that includes four winning seasons (2012, '13, '18, '19), along with the 2018 NFC North title and a playoff appearance. Heading into his 11th NFL season, McManis' skill set will be heavily relied on as the Bears look to return to the playoffs.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of chicagobears.com)