NFC North Notes: Bears, Ramirez, Vikings

Earlier this week, offensive lineman Manny Ramirez decided to call it a career after nine NFL seasons rather than go for No. 10 with the Bears. The veteran offensive says his body told him it was time to retire and it was a decision that was a long time coming.

It is something I have been thinking about the last few weeks and I have been in prayer about it,” Ramirez, 33, told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “It’s not a decision I made randomly. It’s something I have been dealing with and when it’s time, it’s time. When your body tells you something, you can’t really go against it. This isn’t a game where you can just try to make it. I respect the game too much to try to do something like that and there is too much at risk. When your body doesn’t want to do what is required at this level, I wanted to play it smart. I always told myself the day I feel that way is the day I will walk away. Definitely feel at peace about it. It is time to move on and I feel God has bigger and better things for me.”

Here’s more out of the NFC North:

  • The Vikings and Harrison Smith likely followed the model of the Earl Thomas contract as they negotiated his $50MM+ extension, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap writes. While the overall numbers are impressive, Fitzgerald notes that both players received new full guarantees that were essentially nothing more than the signing bonus and their current year salaries which were either already guaranteed or virtually guaranteed to be earned. Fitzgerald also wonders if Smith’s team should have waited to see if the Chiefs and Eric Berry inked a lucrative new deal between now and the July deadline. At that point, Smith could have used that as a data point in a new negotiation since Berry seems likely to get $10MM+/year on his next deal.
  • This could be the last hurrah for the Packers‘ talent offensive line featuring right guard T.J. Lang, left guard Josh Sitton, and left tackle David Bakhtiari, as Rob Demovsky of writes. “We’ve got a lot of guys up and if I’m gambling, I’m going to bet that not all of us come back,” Bakhtiari said. “That’s just how the nature of the beast is. But that’s something you don’t want to think about and that shouldn’t be our topic of conversation.” Bakhtiari could command $10MM/year or more next spring if the Packers don’t lock him up before then before then while Sitton could see a big money deal after earning consecutive All-Pro nods. Last year, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Lang as the fifth-best guard in the NFL and Sitton as the sixth-best.
  • Yesterday, Michael Rothstein of explained why Giovani Bernard‘s new deal with the Bengals could bode well for Lions running back Theo Riddick.
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