Mannelly in game for long haul

Long snapper's career with Bears could stretch into management after next year's contract extension

The game against the Lions on Sunday could have been the last one for a Bear who has been around forever and has his name listed prominently in the team record books.

But the Bears decided they wanted him back.

Whether or not the Bears will take the same approach with middle linebacker Brian Urlacher that they took with Patrick Mannelly remains to be seen.

On Monday, the team announced a one-year extension for the long snapper worth $940,000, with a $100,000 signing bonus. If Mannelly goes on injured reserve, he will receive a $500,000 split.

When Mannelly approached the Bears, it made perfect sense for them because NFL teams had until Friday to count a portion of the new deal against the 2012 salary cap.

It also made sense because Mannelly, at 37, remains one of the league's better long snappers. He estimates he has been off on three punts and on one field goal this year, which is about typical in a season in which he will have approximately 150 snaps.

It wasn't a given that Mannelly would be back next year. Besides his advanced football age, he was coming off an anterior cruciate tear that ended his 2011 season. Even Mannelly acknowledges he had started preparing himself for what might come next.

And that might be at Halas Hall, too.

Mannelly, who has played in a record 230 games as a Bear (39 more than the next closest player) and in a record 15 seasons as a Bear, is valued for more than what he can do with a football between his legs.

In the offseason the team asked Mannelly to help them interview candidates for the head trainer job.

"It gave me a complete look at football, from being downstairs in the locker room to being allowed to go upstairs and see a completely different component of the team," he said.

One day, Mannelly might be interviewing draft prospects for the Bears. He is interested in a career in personnel and has been thinking about it for quite awhile.

For his first three seasons in the league, Mannelly sat in on offensive line meetings. But since then, he has not been with a position group. That has given him opportunity to watch tape as a scout might.

"I have had time to observe our own players," Mannelly said. "What made Olin Kreutz great? Why was Blake Brockermeyer's punch great? Watching defensive players. It was a way I could use my time productively."

Kreutz and Mannelly both were chosen in the 1998 draft. In the team's first year without Kreutz in 2011, Mannelly noticed a leadership void. He has attempted to fill that this season.

"Olin was good at bringing out each person in the locker room and helping them understand what they needed to do to better help us win," Mannelly said. "His leadership was underground."

So when the Bears promoted Joe Anderson from the practice squad, it was Mannelly who met at his locker. His message: "As long as you know your assignments, we can live with mistakes. Know your assignments."

The Bears like having Mannelly around. And he might be around for some time.

Numbers games: Big-play Peanut

When Rod Marinelli came to the Bears four years ago, he put up a "Big Play Board" in the defensive meeting room.

Advertisement