The Specialists. No, not 'The Specialist', the action flick with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone, but the three special teams superstars that have been such key components to the Chicago Bears the last few years. With many fans looking at one of the three, if not all three, as the most valuable players on the roster. Kind of sad isn't it?
Not "sad" in the way that I'm demeaning what the special teams mean to the success of a football team, just sad that this particular team hasn't been able to find any offensive or defensive impact players that would lead to some more wins. Lovie Smith is always quick to point out the importance of the third phase, and I do agree, but I'd love to root for a team that doesn't need to point to the fact that their punter is real good at pinning teams inside the 20. Their special teams success shouldn't be the first thing we, as fans, point to when talking about our team. But, with that being said, I sure am glad the Bears have three of the finest special team players in the NFL!
THE SPECIALISTS - Two of your three specialists are getting up there in age, but still quite capable of playing at a high level. I see no reason why anything will change with this group in 2010. I wouldn't mind seeing a kickoff specialist brought in, but it's not something the Bears have ever done under the Jerry Angelo watch, so I doubt it'll happen.
Robbie Gould - Signed through 2013 - As I mentioned above, having a kickoff specialist would be nice, a luxury, but nice none the less. Gould ranks 17th in the NFL (11%) among kickers that have kicked off at least 1 per game in touchback percentage. For his career he's at 8.4%. I'm sure the Bears will live with his being in the bottom half of the league in TB% as long as he keeps making those FG's.
Brad Maynard - Signed through 2010 - At 36 years old, I wonder how much longer he'll want to keep punting? He has only one remaining year on his deal, so I wonder if there has been any negotiations about extending him? His 26 punts inside the 20 tied him for 10th in '09. Not as impressive as his league leading 40 he had in 2008 but still pretty good. He'll be punting for the Bears in 2010.
Patrick Mannelly - Signed through 2010 - Yet another specialist entering a Lame Duck year! Mannelly makes a pretty penny for his services ($770,000), and he is one of the best in the NFL. I see no reason why he won't be resigned at some point and retire a Bear.
Richmond McGee - Signed a 2 year contract 12/28/09 - Yes, the Bears do have another punter on the roster... interesting. He was signed when Maynard was battling some injuries late in the year, but the Bears won't carry 2 punters on the roster, nor will they stash one on the practice squad. He'll be in camp and probably through preseason so Maynard won't have to do all the punting. And who knows, there is an outside chance he'll punt better than Brad. I know McGee has a better web site than Maynard does, LINK will POP!
2010 SPECIALIST OUTLOOK - This will be the easiest one yet... no changes expected.
Just in case any of you missed any of my Roster Turnover series, here are some links!
The next major project I'm working on for WCG will be some draft related stuff. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a look at some posible players that could be coming to your Chicago Bears.
Who's your favorite Bears Specialist?
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