Manny Ramirez

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.

Bears Place Manny Ramirez On Reserve/Retired List

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.

FA Rumors: Dolphins, Broncos, Hillman, Bills

The Dolphins haven’t been linked to cornerback Leon Hall since the league year opened, despite the fact that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph coached Hall in Cincinnati. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald explains that Hall’s asking price has precluded the Dolphins from getting involved so far, but if that price tag eventually comes down, the veteran corner should see his market heat up, and Miami could get involved.

Here are a few more free agency updates from around the NFL:

  • The Broncos have reached out and expressed interest in bringing back free agent running back Ronnie Hillman, writes Mike Klis of 9NEWS. However, according to Klis, Denver is one of a few teams showing interest, and Hillman’s other suitors have more cap room than the Broncos.
  • The Bills continue to weigh their options on defense, bringing in a pair of defensive free agents for visits today. The club announced (via Twitter) that linebacker Zach Brown and defensive back Corey White arrived at One Bills Drive on Monday morning to meet with the team. Brown, who started 33 games for the Titans over the last four years and had 77 tackles in 2015, is one of the more intriguing free agents still available.
  • Tim Lelito, who received a low-end RFA tender from the Saints, garnered some interest from the Cowboys but opted not to sign an offer sheet with Dallas and sounds prepared to return to New Orleans for 2016, as Lyons Yellin of WWL outlines. Lelito technically remains a free agent until he formally signs his one-year, $1.671MM RFA tender.
  • Veteran guard Chris Chester, who underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, likely won’t be ready to go until sometime in June, which is why he remains unsigned, per Adam Caplan of (Twitter links). The free agent lineman, who spent last season in Atlanta, has a decent chance to start somewhere once he eventually gets healthy and signs.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune provides the details on a handful of recently-signed Bears contracts, reporting that offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, linebacker Sam Acho, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, and safety Chris Prosinski all received one-year, minimum salary benefit deals, with $80K signing bonuses.

Bears Sign OL Manny Ramirez

The Bears have further fortified their offensive line, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, who tweets that the club has signed veteran offensive lineman Manny Ramirez to a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal aren’t yet known.Manny Ramirez (vertical)

Ramirez, who entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick in 2007, spent four seasons with the Broncos from 2011 to 2014, so Bears head coach John Fox is very familiar with him from his time in Denver. Ramirez saw his most extensive action as a starter in those seasons, making a total of 43 regular-season starts for the Broncos at center and right guard.

Having joined the Lions for the 2015 campaign, Ramirez played well when he saw the field, and showed a little versatility too. His seven starts for the club last season came at three different positions — center, left guard, and right guard.

For the Bears, it’s possible Ramirez will continue to play that role as the first lineman off the bench at center and guard, contributing when he’s needed. However, the 33-year-old should also have an opportunity to compete for a starting job, with interior linemen Patrick Omameh, Vlad Ducasse, and Will Montgomery all eligible for free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Manny Ramirez To Visit Bears

Free agent offensive lineman Manny Ramirez will visit with the Bears, according to Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune. Ramirez was traded from the Broncos to the Lions during last year’s draft in a deal that allowed Denver to move up and select Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray, but it was revealed last month that Ramirez would not return to the Lions for the upcoming season. Ramirez saw time in all 16 games this for Detroit in 2015, but he started only seven of those games as he was relegated to the bench in favor of younger interior linemen. He did, however, grade out as the league’s fourth-best center per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), so there’s reason to believe that the 33-year-old could still have something left in the tank.Manny Ramirez (vertical)

As Biggs observes, the Bears are seeking competition for second-year center Hroniss Grasu, whom Chicago selected in the third round of last year’s draft. Ramirez has also seen time at the left and right guard spots over the course of his career, so he could provide valuable depth along the interior of the Bears’ O-line even if he is unable to beat out Grasu for the starting center job.

Ramirez, who was actually drafted by the Lions in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, signed with the Broncos in 2011 and spent four years in Denver under head coach John Fox, the current head coach of the Bears. Ramirez’s visit with Chicago appears to be his first of the offseason, and I would imagine any contract he signs at this point in his career would be a modest, one- or two-year pact.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

FA Rumors: Chargers, Jeffery, Steelers, Bears

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco says that he views Chris Watt as the team’s starting center, but he will not rule out making a move to improve at the position,’s Eric D. Williams writes. Although Telesco didn’t mention them by name, it sounds possible that the Bolts could consider free agent centers Stefen Wisniewski or Manny Ramirez. As of this writing, the Chargers have less than $14MM in cap space for 2016, per ESPN and

Here’s more on free agency from around the league:

  • Bears head coach John Fox and Jets owner Woody Johnson each discussed their franchised players on Monday, and the differences in their comments were noticeable. As Jeff Dickerson of details, Fox said on ESPN’s NFL Live that the Bears are actively working on a longer-term deal for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
  • Meanwhile, Johnson said he won’t be “disappointed” if defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson remains in New York going forward, and was evasive when asked whether the Jets have made him a fair extension offer. “I’m not going to characterize the offer,” Johnson said, per Newsday’s Kimberley A. Martin. “If we made him an offer, he didn’t accept it. Fair is a subjective thing. It’s got to be acceptable to him and to us.” While Wilkerson technically remains a free agent, Jeffery recently signed his franchise tender, taking him off the market.
  • Could the Steelers add a cornerback in free agency? Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t sound optimistic about the idea, as Jeremy Fowler of writes. “I don’t know that there is one that’s viable at this juncture in free agency,” the Steelers coach said. “We are comfortable with the guys that we have from that perspective.”
  • The Broncos continue to have interest in re-signing receiver and return man Jordan Norwood, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Renck adds that free agent special-teamer Omar Bolden is set to visit John Fox and the Bears this week.
  • The Giants were the biggest spenders of this year’s free agent period, signing Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Damon Harrison to mega-deals early in the new league year. Jason Fitzgerald of examines New York’s free agent decisions and wonders whether the club will come to regret its big moves.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Lions Won’t Re-Sign Manny Ramirez

Lions guard Manny Ramirez will not sign a new deal with the club. Both the guard and the team are ready to move on as he approaches free agency, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweetsManny Ramirez (vertical)

[RELATED: Lions Cut RB Joique Bell]

Ramirez, who turns 33 on Friday, saw time in all 16 games this season but started only seven contests. When he was relegated to the bench in favor of younger interior linemen, Ramirez missed out on several playing-time incentives in his contract. When asked in November if he felt his benching carried financial motives, Ramirez took the high road.

“I hope not,” Ramirez said.“But I can’t worry about that. I can only worry about the things that I’m in control of, which is, every time I step on the field, that I’m ready to go. That’s all I can do.”

Ramirez played more than 1,000 snaps for the Broncos in 2014, seeing time at both center and guard. On Day 1 of the draft, however, Denver shipped him to the Lions in a deal that allowed them to move up and select Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cruz, Hayne, Wilson, Ramirez

Victor Cruz‘s uncertain future with the Giants received some press this month when he landed on injured reserve, ending his season, but he won’t be the only difficult roster decision facing the Giants in the offseason. As Bob Glauber of Newsday details, the team will also have tough calls to make on players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Prince Amukamara, and Jon Beason.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC:

  • Jarryd Hayne admitted today that he has received offers to return to Australia’s National Rugby League since he was moved from the 49ers‘ 53-man roster to their practice squad, but he’s committed to NFL, tweets Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. The former rugby star saw some action earlier this season as a running back and return man for San Francisco.
  • Despite an up-and-down performance so far this season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says the lucrative new contract he signed prior to the season isn’t playing any part in his – or the team’s – struggles, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. “People want to make it something else but for me I love the game of football and I love coming to work, I love getting here early and leaving late and that’s what it’s about,” Wilson said. “Nothing’s changed. The biggest thing is we’ve just got to find ways to win.”
  • Having been benched by the Lions, veteran guard Manny Ramirez is unlikely to reach several playing-time incentives in his contract, and he hopes that’s not the motive for his reduced role. “I hope not,” Ramirez said Thursday, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “But I can’t worry about that. I can only worry about the things that I’m in control of, which is, every time I step on the field, that I’m ready to go. That’s all I can do.”

Broncos Acquire 23rd Pick From Lions

FRIDAY, 2:43pm: Ramirez has passed his physical, according to Tim Twentyman of on Twitter, making the trade official.

THURSDAY, 9:31pm: The Broncos have traded up, acquiring the No. 23 pick from the Lions, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC 4 (Twitter link). Denver will use the pick to select Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray, tweets Mike Klis of 9 News. Detroit will receive the Broncos’ No. 28 pick, a fifth-rounder (143), a 2016 fifth-rounder, and offensive lineman Manny Ramirez.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link), the deal was agreed to on Wednesday. Presumably, Denver agreed to the deal in principle with the hope that Ray was still on the board. Of course, Ray, once projected as a top-ten pick, saw his stock tumble following his recent arrest for marijuana possession. He’s also dealing with a foot injury that could force him to miss the beginning of the season.

Ramirez, meanwhile, will slot in at left guard for Detroit, who has yet to re-sign their own free agent guard, Rob Sims. Ramirez played more than 1,000 snaps for the Broncos last season, seeing time at both center and guard.

NFC Notes: Lions, Saints, 49ers, Cowboys

Earlier tonight, we rounded up a few leftover draft-related items out of the AFC. Now let’s shift our focus to the other conference and pass along some NFC notes….

  • The Lions had three offers to trade back, GM Martin Mayhew tells Michael Rothstein of (Twitter link), but the Broncos’ decision to offer Manny Ramirez helped Detroit make its decision.
  • Had Andrus Peat not been available to the Saints, they would have been fine with choosing Danny Shelton, says head coach Sean Payton (Twitter link via Sean Fazende of FOX 8).
  • The 49ers had several options in the first round, as GM Trent Baalke tells Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that there were still five or six prospects the team “coveted” when the No. 15 pick rolled around. As such, it made sense for the Niners to move back a little.
  • The Cowboys would’ve thought hard about trading down had Byron Jones not been available, says Dallas exec Stephen Jones (Twitter link via Todd Archer of Jones says the club had a couple other players who were in play at the back end of the first round.
  • Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown was still on the board when the Patriots grabbed him with the last pick of the first round, and it sounds like Brown himself thought he’d be picked sooner — according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (Twitter link), the newest Pat was told he could have gone as high as No. 7 to the Bears.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.