The Bears have signed linebacker Manti Te’o to their practice squad, the team announced on Tuesday.
Te’o, 29, is an eight-year veteran who first entered the league as a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. A highly regarded prospect out of Notre Dame, Te’o won numerous awards in his 2012 senior season, including being the only defender in the past 25 years to win the Maxwell Award, which is given to the collegiate player of the year. He was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, finishing second to Johnny Manziel.
Since entering the NFL, Te’o has played for both the Chargers and the Saints, the former team being the organization that drafted him. He has played in 62 games in his career, starting in 48 of them. He has amassed 307 total tackles over his previous seven seasons.
As a result of the NFL’s new practice squad rules, teams are allowed to add six players to their practice squad who have played any number of seasons in the league. The Bears have already taken advantage of these rules, signing Lamar Miller and Kai Forbath to their practice squad, as well as keeping Tyler Bray around for another year.
The Bears don’t have much in the way of proven depth for their two starting inside linebackers, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan, and while it’s unknown if Te’o will ever suit up for their active roster, he at the very least gives younger talents like Josh Woods and Joel Iyiegbuniwe an experienced veteran to work with and learn from.