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NFL Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears Rumors: LS Patrick Mannelly Set To Retire?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest, and most unsung heroes of the Chicago Bears’ special teams just might call it quits before the 2014 NFL season starts.

Free agent long snapper Patrick Mannelly, the franchise’s longest tenured player (16 years), is currently undergoing rehabilitation after having surgery on his hip. Mannelly still has the desire to continue to play for the Bears, and the organization is expected to re-sign the soon-to-be 39-year-old to a one-year contract if he is able to bounce back. However, there is no set time in how long the Bears are willing to wait and see if and when Mannelly is able to return to the gridiron.

In the event that Mannelly decides to hang up his cleats, Chicago has already agreed to terms with long snapper Chad Rempel to a three-year deal. Rempel, who’s 31 years old, played 10 seasons in the Canadian Football League.

The potential loss of Mannelly may not seem too important to most, but in actuality, it could leave a tremendous hole in Chicago’s special teams. Mannelly’s consistency as the Bears’ long snapper over the past 16 seasons has helped the Bears have one of the best special teams units in the league during that span. Furthermore, the success of Robbie Gould, one of the NFL’s most prolific kickers, probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Mannelly.

Mannelly has been rehabbing for nearly three months, and has approximately two more months left at the maximum to ready himself for the season. Of all of the re-signings this offseason, bringing back Mannelly would be one of the biggest for the Bears. Although Mannelly may be in the twilight of his career, his services are still highly valuable, and will be much-needed in 2014.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.