Patrick Mannelly

Patrick Mannelly Announces Retirement

9:18am: The Bears have officially confirmed news of Mannelly’s retirement, via a press release.

“Our family is very grateful for all he has done,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said of Mannelly, in a statement. “Not just for the way he’s played on the field, but the way he has carried himself off the field. He’s the epitome of what a Chicago Bear is all about. We’ll miss having him in uniform and wish him the best.”

8:40am: Patrick Mannelly may not be a household name around the NFL, or even in Chicago, but no player in Bears history has played more games for the club over the course of his career than the veteran long snapper. That time will come to an end this year, however, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Mannelly will announce his retirement today.

Mannelly, 39, entered the league back in 1998 as a sixth-round draft pick out of Duke. Since then, he has appeared in 245 total regular-season contests as Chicago’s long snapper. Mannelly, who has been a team captain for the last six years, had hoped to return for a 17th season after undergoing hip surgery, but maintained that he would have to feel right and feel as if he could still play at an elite level, writes Biggs.

“Pat was great,” Bears kicker Robbie Gould said on Thursday. “Those are tough shoes to fill. That guy is probably the greatest long snapper to ever play the game. Trying to fill those shoes … those guys can’t even think about that. It’s not that it is not possible, it’s something they shouldn’t be worried about.”

“Those guys” who will vie for the long snapper job will be Chad Rempel and Brandon Hartson, who have been competing at the position during the team’s spring practices.

NFC North Notes: Watkins, Lions, Bears, Vikes

The Lions, who already have the NFL’s top receiver in Calvin Johnson, have been frequently linked to the draft’s No. 1 wideout over the last several weeks and months, and today the team finally hosted Clemson’s Sammy Watkins on an official pre-draft visit, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Watkins is expected to be off the board by the time the Lions’ No. 10 pick arrives, so if the club really wants to land him, a trade will probably be required. Today’s visit could go a long way toward the Lions deciding whether or not to pursue such a move.

Here are several more items on the Lions and a couple of their NFC North rivals:

  • Birkett adds (via Twitter) that the Lions are also setting up a visit for Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, who has several other meetings on his schedule, as we heard earlier in the afternoon.
  • New Detroit backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky is hoping to alleviate the concerns of Lions fans who aren’t happy to see him back on the roster after his last stint with the team included an 0-16 season. “I get the fears maybe with obviously fans and whatnot,” Orlovsky said, according to Birkett. “But the organization knows what they’re doing, and I know I’m a good player, and I certainly hope to just be part of changing some of that past, whether it’s directly or indirectly.”
  • Veteran defensive back Aaron Ross had a tryout with the Lions today, according to Jason La Canfora of (via Twitter).
  • The Bears‘ workout with Josh Freeman was reported yesterday, as were the auditions for running backs Nate Eachus, Javon Ringer, and Phillip Tanner but those weren’t the only players to work out for the team. As Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post details, the club also auditioned quarterback Adam Weber and tight end Matthew Mulligan.
  • If veteran long snapper Patrick Mannelly doesn’t re-sign with the Bears, he’ll likely retire, writes Jeff Dickerson of
  • The Vikings will meet privately with quarterback Zach Mettenberger following his Pro Day, a source tells Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). The club was said last week to have real interest in the LSU signal-caller.
  • Cassius Vaughn‘s one-year pact with the Lions is a minimum salary benefit contract with no signing bonus, tweets Aaron Wilson.

Bears Sign Chad Rempel

The Bears have signed long snapper Chad Rempel to a three-year deal, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). This is coming off earlier news (via Biggs’ Twitter) that the team had hosted Rempel and fellow long snapper Brad Madison for a workout. In another tweet, Biggs adds that the signing has no impact on the status of long-time Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly, who will make a decision on his return from hip surgery in the upcoming months. The Bears also have Brandon Hartson on their roster, giving the team plenty of options should Mannelly decide to retire.

Rempel had bounced around the Canadian Football League since 2004, including a stint with the Montreal Alouettes where he played under current Bears head coach Marc Trestman. The 31-year-old’s best statistical season came in 2009 with the Toronto Argonauts, when he caught nine passes for 76 yards. Rempel also had 70 career special team tackles.

The Alberta-native also participates in bobsledding, a sport in which he won the Canadian four-man bobsled championship in 2009.