Signed as a possible starter for the Bears this season upon arriving in Chicago in March, Manny Ramirez doesn’t look set to venture into that position this season. The Bears placed the veteran interior lineman on the reserve/retired list, the team announced, on Twitter.
Ramirez signed a one-year deal with the Bears in late March to join a then-crowded collection of interior blockers, along with Hroniss Grasu, Matt Slauson and Ted Larsen. The team then drafted Cody Whitehair in the second round.
Now, however, a Larsen-Grasu-Whitehair trio manning the middle of Chicago’s line looks much more likely after the release of Slauson and Ramirez’s retirement.
Last week, Ramirez told Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link) he was eager to push Grasu for the starting center position, but that’s a job the second-year player now looks to have sewn up after the departures of Slausen and Ramirez.
The former fourth-round Lions draft choice in 2007 played for eight seasons and turned 33 in February. His best season came for the record-setting 2013 Broncos, who started him at center, where he became a top-10 performer at the spot in the opinion of Pro Football Focus. The Broncos, however, moved him to guard in 2014, when he did not play as well, and traded him back to Detroit the following spring as part of the deal that allowed Denver to move up to draft Shane Ray.
With the Lions, though, Ramirez graded well, per PFF, and looked like a potential asset for the Bears either as a starter or depth piece. In the last month, the Bears have lost two centers who ranked in the analytics site’s top 5 at that position in 2015. Despite Ramirez only starting seven games for the Lions — although he played in all 16 — PFF ranked the former Texas Tech product fourth and Slauson fifth.
So, the onus will be on Grasu to show he’s capable of being an upper-echelon starter after missing the first eight games of his career due to injury.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.