If you recall, Bears' Kick-off return specialist Danieal Manning desperately wanted an new contract extension at the beginning of this year. Manning was due to be a restricted free agent in 2010, and the Bears simply offered him his one year tender, worth $1.176 million. Neither Manning nor his agent were very happy with the minimum offer, and decided to hold out and gauge the interest on the RFA market. There was none. Manning, eventually, had no other choice but to sign.
Drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft, Manning was the second highest draft pick to ever come out of Abilene Christian University. In fact, Manning, while in the same draft-class as the Devin Hester, was actually drafted higher than the "Miami Hurricane."
It's really no secret that Danieal is one of the top return-men in the NFL, and it's nothing new. He's been a solid threat ever since joining the Bears. Manning, is as consistent as they come. For all the love that coach Smith has shown Manning over the years, at one point referring to him as the most athletic player on the roster, he hasn't exactly put him in the best scenario for success.
Manning has bounced from position-to-position on the Bears' defense. From free safety, to right-side cornerback, to nickel back, to a combination of free safety and nickel, and now this season mostly at strong safety. It's enough to make your head spin. All the while, Manning was receiving some mild criticism for not being very good at any defensive position.
While I would certainly challenge any of you to start 4 different jobs in 5 years and show me just how successful you are, I'll skip right over that argument. Why? Because we don't need to have it. Danieal Manning, can play strong safety. I don't mean to tell you he's a difference maker at the position, but he looks like a legitimate safety this season. That, in combination with his return prowess, makes him a very valuable commodity to the Bears.
Manning's agent says the team and Danieal have not yet had any talks with regard to his deal, which we wouldn't expect in the middle of a significant season. But, given Manning's love for Chicago, his teammates and the Chicago Bears organization, I'd expect to see Manning, with new paper in hand, in early 2011.