On Wednesday, the Chicago Bears officially signed guard/center Manny Ramirez while they have reportedly have a deal in place with another guard/center in Ted Larsen.
First reported by the Tribune, the 33-year-old Ramirez agreed to a one-year contract with the Bears. In nine seasons, he's made 65 starts between the three interior spots.
Ramirez is a powerful run blocker who graded out as the fourth-best guard a season ago by Pro Football Focus. He appeared in 16 games, starting seven (three at right guard, two at left guard and the final two at center) for rival Detroit in 2015.
Originally a fourth-round pick in 2007 out of Texas Tech, the 6'3", 325-pounder spent his first four seasons with the Lions before re-joining them this past year for a second stint. In between that time, Ramirez played for head coach John Fox and offensive line coach Dave Magazu in Denver, starting 43 games in four seasons. His familiarity with the coaching staff made it easy for the Bears to sign him much like center Will Montgomery last off-season.
In total, the versatile Ramirez has made 26 starts at center, 24 at right guard and 15 at left guard. He started all three playoff games in 2013 at center on the way to Denver's Super Bowl XLVIII appearance. In his final season there, 2014, he split the season in half between center and right guard.
At the very least, Ramirez is a nice depth piece behind second-year center Hroniss Grasu who hasn't proven he's fully ready to be a successful starter in this league. Ramirez provides versatility at both guard spots as well, a position they had weak depth at in the form of Vladimir Ducasse and Patrick Omameh last season.
The other move along the offensive line comes in the form of 28-year-old Ted Larsen, per ESPN. The deal is reportedly worth a maximum of $2.4 million.
Larsen, a seventh-year pro has made 57 games in six seasons between Tampa Bay (2010-13) and Arizona (14-15). Over the last two seasons alongside new Bears' right tackle Bobby Massie, Larsen has started 26 games between left guard, center and right guard.
The 6'2", 307-pounder was selected by New England in the sixth round of the 2010 draft out of NC State product but didn't make it past final cuts there. He made the switch to offensive line in college after playing along the defensive line his first two years for the Wolfpack.
He made seven starts at right guard and three at left guard for the Cardinals last season. Larsen has mainly played guard in his career. Outside of 2012, when he started nine games at center for the Bucs, he has mostly lined up at left guard. In total, Larsen has made 33 starts at left guard, 13 at right guard and 11 at center.
Although he ranked poor against the run and pass a year ago finishing 72nd among 81 guards in the Pro Football Focus grades, Larsen adds more versatility and competition to the interior of the offensive line.
Both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox have stressed the need for more competition at every position and they get that along the offensive line with the signings of Ramirez and Larsen. They take a little bit of pressure off the guard spots in next month's draft.
The Bears have now reached agreements with 19 total players this off-season including seven new faces. With just under $23 million in total cap room after these two signings, the Bears are still doing fine in that department.
The Bears are welcoming safety/kick returner Omar Bolden to Halas Hall on Thursday for a visit, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
Bolden, 27, is a former fourth-round pick in 2012 who has appeared in 56 games, making one start at safety in 2013. He was a four-year starter at Arizona State playing cornerback, the same position he lined up at his rookie season before switching to safety. He has 51 career tackles and one pass breakup. His 27 special teams tackles rank second over the last four years in Denver.
He's averaged 24.7 yards per kickoff on 44 career returns with a long of 77 in 2013. Last season, he returned five punts for 123 yards (24.6 average), taking one back against the Colts, 83 yards for a touchdown. The 5'10", 195-pounder would be more depth for this defense and add a familiar face to the third phase under John Fox and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers.