There appears to be a new special teams battle brewing this summer.
First, the cold hard facts: Earlier today, the Chicago Bears announced the signing of long snapper Tanner Carew. To clear room on the roster for Carew, the team waived/injured linebacker Andrew Trumbetti, an undrafted free agent who played his college ball at Notre Dame.
Now, the fun part: Carew’s path to the pros is an interesting one. According to his NFL Draft profile, Carew was the top snapping recruit in the country coming out of high school, earned U.S. Army All-American status, and worked his way to the top of the long-snapping charts while working at the Chris Sailer Kicking Camp. Carew has long been committed to long snapping and it appears to have worked out. He finished his college career with 39 consecutive starts and picked up five special teams tackles.
New Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor had a front-row seat for some excellent long snapping while he served as an assistant under Dave Toub back when Patrick Mannelly was doing his thing. So if anyone knows the value of stability and production at that particular position, it’s probably Tabor.
In any case, Carew originally went undrafted, but spent some time with the Seahawks after the draft. The Bears scouted him during the pre-draft process and shared that Mark Helfrich (who now serves as the team’s offensive coordinator) left a positive, lasting impression on his former players when he was the University of Oregon’s head coach. Having your former college head coach on staff with a team you’re trying to make could bode well for Carew.
In a broader sweep, bringing Carew into the mix means the Bears now have two special teams jobs that are open for competition. If you’ll recall, Chicago signed punter Ryan Winslow as an undrafted free agent to challenge incumbent Pat O’Donnell, who has been the team’s punter since 2014. Now, the team has added a little wrinkle to that mix as both of those punters will be handling snaps from two different long snappers. Feel the drama!
Carew will square off against Patrick Scales at long snapper, a position Bears had an issue filling last summer, when Scales suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Jeff Overbaugh’s time with the team was short-lived and Andrew DePaola signed a lucrative free agent deal with the Raiders after spending the 2017 season as Scales’ replacement. Simply put, the Bears haven’t had much stability at the position since Mannelly retired after his 16-year career ended in 2013.
Perhaps Carew could practice and play his way into that position.