This is the first part of an in-depth series that will examine the status of the Chicago Bears’ top free agents.
The Bears have 23 free agents, including 18 unrestricted free agents this off-season and with free agency officially opening up Wednesday, it’s time to dig deep.
After breaking down cornerback Tracy Porter earlier today, I’ll take a look at another cornerback in Sherrick McManis and his chances of returning to Chicago.
Who: Cornerback, 28-year-old from Northwestern University
2015 contract: Played on a one-year, $825,000 deal
Sherrick McManis got the first crack at being the Bears’ slot corner this past season, averaging 41 snaps over the first six games adding 17 tackles and taking a more limited role on special teams. Well, that move didn’t work out for the sixth-year pro as he was exposed in coverage and the Bears turned to undrafted rookie Bryce Callahan at the nickelback position.
Despite the struggles on defense, McManis has tremendous value as a special teams standout. He recorded a team-best 17 tackles on teams for first-year Bears defensive coordinator Jeff Rodgers’s unit. McManis started four of 16 games, totaling a career-high 29 tackles, but his craft is on special teams where he’s added 55 stops in four seasons with the Bears.
At 6’1″, 197 lbs, the 2010 fifth-round pick is perfect in a deep reserve role where he can focus on special teams first and foremost. The Bears have struggled on the third phase much too often these past two seasons and keeping a core piece is very important. Former core special teamers such as Blake Costanzo, Eric Weems and Craig Steltz were not re-signed over the last two years and if the Bears were smart they wouldn’t let McManis leave this off-season.
For what it’s worth, McManis ranked 104th overall out of 114 total cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus in 2015. He had an overall rating of 38.3 finishing last among the five Bears corners who played a season ago.
He played the 17th most snaps on defense with 296 (28.7 percent) and a career-high 278 special teams snaps.
Why he’ll be back
McManis is one of the top special teamers in the entire NFL. He can cover kicks with the best of them and has a knack at making a big tackle on the third phase. Just because he struggles on defense doesn’t mean the Bears shouldn’t bring him back on a one-year deal for the third straight off-season. He has a craft and it’s one that he should stick to. McManis is a solid locker room presence and featuring him on special teams once again would be wise. As long as he doesn’t see the field defensively, he’s worth another contract.
Why he won’t be back
The Bears will be adding more cornerbacks through the draft and possibly free agency and they could find a player who is both a nice reserve and a core special teamer. If that were the case that would leave McManis out of the picture since his defensive skills are really limited. He simply isn’t a good cover corner and he got caught on an island much too often last season.
McManis should be back next season.
Up next: The rest of the Bears’ offensive free agents
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