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Bears grab tight end Matt Spaeth, dump Brandon Manumaleuna

Updated: November 2, 2011 12:44AM

Tight end didn’t appear to be one of the Bears’ major needs before general manager Jerry Angelo blew up his depth chart Thursday by swapping blocking tight ends and trading Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers for a third-round draft pick.

The Bears agreed to terms with free-agent tight end Matt Spaeth and released veteran Brandon Manumaleuna after he failed a physical. The exchange saved the team a $1 million roster bonus due Manumaleuna while replacing him with a younger, healthier and similar player.

Spaeth, 6-7, 270 pounds, had 36 receptions in four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former Minnesota standout won the John Mackey Award in 2006 as the nation’s best collegiate tight end before being chosen two rounds behind first-round pick Olsen in 2007.

Offseason surgery on his right knee contributed to Manumaleuna, who signed a lucrative free-agent contract before last season, not being in shape when he reported to camp before the 2010 season, and he never made the expected impact. Coaches are also high on tight end Kellen Davis, who raised eyebrows last season as the team’s best all-around player at the position.

Bears find punter

The Bears found a replacement for Brad Maynard when they agreed to a five-year contract with free-agent punter Adam Podlesh that will make him one of the top three highest-paid punters in league history and guarantees he will be among the top five highest-paid punters on an annual basis, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Podlesh had a career year in 2010 and was named a Pro Bowl alternate after posting a 43.8 yards-per-punt gross and a 39.2 net and landing 26 punts inside the 20-yard line. Maynard averaged 40.1, 36.4 and had 24 punts inside the 20 for the Bears last season.

Podlesh was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer in March 2010, underwent surgery and is now cancer-free.

Davis going to Lions

Free-agent wide receiver/special teamer Rashied Davis, who has spent his six-year career with the Bears, will sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Davis not only was one of the Bears’ most consistent special-teams players, but he proved he could contribute in offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system when he had seven receptions for 63 yards in the regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Smith will be a Bill

The Bears’ interest in free-agent triple-threat Brad Smith ended when the former Missouri quarterback agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills. His ability to run, pass and catch, as well as replace Danieal Manning as the primary kick returner, intrigued the Bears. Manning, a free-agent safety, is drawing interest from several teams and is not expected to re-sign with the Bears.

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