Now this is the stuff I like to hear, the Bears looking around trying to improve.
A report has come in that the Bears had restricted free agent Ricky Manning Jr in, as well as UCLA's Marcedes Lewis, who is thought to be the top TE on the Bears board.
Also, last week the Bears hosted Ernie Sims, the LB from FSU. He has had a number of concussions and the Bears were doing a physical on his condition as they are high on him.
Manning, 26, is the most interesting possibility because he is a perfect fit in what the Bears are seeking in a nickel corner and would give general manager Jerry Angelo extra flexibility with the 26th pick in the first round. Manning was at Halas Hall on Wednesday, a player said, and it is believed the team will try to sign him to an offer sheet soon.
Signing Manning would allow Angelo to focus on tight end, linebacker -- or really any position, including cornerback -- with the first-round pick. The Panthers signed the three-year veteran to a one-year low tender at $712,000, meaning the Bears would have to forfeit only their third-round pick (the round in which Manning was chosen out of UCLA in 2003) if Carolina declined to match an offer sheet.
If the Bears sign Manning to an offer sheet, the Panthers would have seven days to match it. The Bears will look for ways to make the contract challenging for the Panthers to match.
The Bears do not have an option on the current roster to play in the nickel package behind Pro Bowl corner Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman, who will be returning from shoulder surgery.
The deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets is April 21. Bears strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer remains on the market. One source said the New Orleans Saints might have interest in him, but the Bears likely would match any offer sheet.