Bears trade TE Olsen to Carolina
After more than a year of insisting there was room for the pass-catching talents of tight end Greg Olsen in Mike Martz's offense, which usually ignores that position, the Bears bid adieu to their former No. 1 draft pick.
Olsen was sent to the Carolina Panthers for a third-round pick in next year's draft.
Olsen, the 31st player taken overall in the 2007 draft, saw his numbers plummet last year from career bests of 60 catches, 612 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2009. He finished with 41 catches, 404 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, Martz's first as the Bears' offensive mastermind.
It was the second move in what looks like a major renovation of the tight end position.
Earlier Thursday, unrestricted free agent Matt Spaeth was signed away from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and last year's blocking tight end, Brandon Manumaleuna, was cut after failing his physical following a pair of knee surgeries.
Martz's system rarely has utilized the tight end in the passing game, preferring to use that player almost exclusively as a blocker.
Olsen still managed to tie for the team lead last year with 5 TD catches, and his blocking, which previously had been a weakness improved. But, evidently, not enough.
The departure of Olsen leaves offensive lineman Chris Williams as the only first-round pick on the roster and under contract in 10 years of drafts by general manager Jerry Angelo. And Williams might not even be a starter this year.
This year's first-round pick, Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, had not agreed to terms as of Thursday night.
The former Angelo first-round picks who have washed out as Bears include: offensive tackle Marc Colombo (2002), defensive lineman Michael Haynes and quarterback Rex Grossman (2003), defensive tackle Tommie Harris (2004) and running back Cedric Benson (2005).
The Bears did not have first-round picks in 2006, '09 or '10.
Even though Olsen was not an ideal fit in Martz's system, his trade is somewhat curious given the Bears' need for a big receiver. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Olsen is considered an above average receiver for a tight end.