It didn't take long for the Bears' blockbuster free-agent signings of DE Julius Peppers, RB Chester Taylor and TE Brandon Manumaleuna to trigger widespread speculation involving a host of players who suddenly seemed like they had become more expendable. At the top of the list is former first-round TE Greg Olsen, who, according to one published report shortly after the aforementioned signings, quietly instructed his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to look into possible trades. New Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz wasted no time making Olsen seem like a square peg, frequently mentioning in interviews with the media that the tight end in his system is counted on much more for his blocking than his receiving. With Manumaleuna, who is considered one of the league's better pass-protecting tight ends, now on board, it would appear a greatly reduced role could be in the cards for Olsen, whose blocking has never been considered a strong suit. But the way we hear it, reports of Olsen's possible departure are premature.
"Olsen and Manumaleuna have two totally different skill sets, and the offense still needs a pass-catching tight end," one team insider said. "One of the first things Martz said after getting hired was that he never had worked before with a tight end with Olsen's natural skills, and it wouldn't make sense to just get rid of a former first-round pick that the team has spent so much time grooming the last three years. I believe the team when it says it's not actively shopping him around. But if there's a team willing to trade a second-round pick for him down the road, then I think it's a move they might very well consider."
In any event, with the Bears top-heavy at the TE position at present with Olsen, Manumaleuna, Desmond Clark and Kellen Davis on the roster, we hear some sort of shake-up is likely, with either a release or trade of Clark looking like the strongest possibility, even though he did just receive a $475,000 roster bonus. Entering the final season of a two-year extension he signed after the 2008 season, Clark, who turns 33 in April, finally looked like he could be starting to wear down last season, sitting out five games because of rib and neck injuries after missing only two games in his first six seasons with the Bears.
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