The Bears placed special-teams stud Sherrick McManis and second-round dud Adam Shaheen on season-ending injured reserve Saturday and signed free-agent offensive lineman Corey Levin and tight end Eric Saubert to the 53-man roster.
Although the well-respected McManis, an impending free agent who turns 32 next month, could certainly be re-signed this offseason, it’s fair to wonder whether Shaheen’s disappointing tenure is over. The big “Y” tight end out of Ashland University rarely flashed the versatility and athleticism that compelled Ryan Pace to move down in Round 2 of the 2017 draft and spend the 45th overall selection on Shaheen to try and fortify one of the consistently weaker positions of the general manager’s tenure.
Shaheen was rarely healthy with the Bears, suffering a chest injury in his rookie preseason and an ankle injury last summer, and when he was, the sporadic flashes of mismatch potential and ball skills on display in practice simply never transferred to the games.
Despite Shaheen being drafted for a different system one year before Matt Nagy’s arrival, in many ways, he became the poster boy for the arrested development at one of the most critical positions in Nagy’s offense, severely lacking this season.
Shaheen managed only 17 catches for 135 yards and one touchdown in 15 games under Nagy, with the ankle injury last preseason costing him the first half of 2018, failing to capitalize on improved health in a make-or-break 2019 after Pace said Shaheen was in “phenomenal shape” and his “arrow was still pointing up” this summer.
After trying to advance and fumbling a kickoff he was supposed to fall on late in the Week 10 loss to the Eagles, Shaheen was a healthy scratch before popping up on the injury report with an ankle injury and being declared out for the past three games.
McManis, the Bears’ longest-tenured player and one of the NFL’s more consistent and established special teamers, suffered a groin injury in the Week 12 win against the New York Giants. After surprisingly being a healthy scratch in Weeks 2 and 3, McManis’ return to the lineup coincided with the Bears’ marked improvements in the third phase, where they’ve ascended from 26th last season to 11th in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average efficiency.
The 25-year-old Saubert (6-foot-5, 253 pounds), who went to high school in Hoffman Estates before playing collegiately at Drake, was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft by the Atlanta Falcons, with whom he appeared in 31 games from 2017 to ‘18.
Levin, 25, is a third-year vet from Tennessee-Chattanooga, making all 16 of his NFL appearances (including one start) with the Tennessee Titans last season. He most recently was on the Denver Broncos roster.