Bears need to move on without Maynard

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The Bears signed punter Richmond McGee to a two-year contract last week which could spell the end of Brad Maynard’s career in Chicago. Maynard, an unrestricted free agent, has not heard from the Bears about his future with the team, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking McGee’s signing personally.

Maynard, 37, had a disappointing season last year but feels he can still perform at a high level.

“I know when I’m standing side-by-side with a 27-year-old punter (McGee) that I’m kicking just as good as he is,” Maynard said. “I’ve got that drive in me, that burning feeling inside that I want to prove the Bears wrong. And I can’t wait to do it.”

That’s some mighty strong bravado from a man who finished 32nd in the league in punt average (40.1 yards) and 29th in net average (35.2). Maynard even had but a modest season at what he usually does best: downing the ball inside the 20. He finished 17th in the league in that category with 24. That’s a drop from the 26 he had the previous year and a whopping 40 he had in 2008.

“Jeff Feagles went to the Giants at 37 years old,” Maynard said. “He played seven years there and went to the Pro Bowl in his fifth year there. I’ve been compared to Jeff Feagles my entire career and, yes, I do feel like I have seven years left in me.”

Seven years? Seriously?

Maybe Maynard is right and he can hang around for seven more years, but he wouldn’t be very effective while doing so. Unless he can somehow put some strength back into his 37-year-old leg, his career in Chicago should be done.

Pardon the Bears for striving for something a little bit better than Maynard’s 40.1 punt average. Excuse them for wanting a punter who could, oh, I don’t know, reverse field position when the offense is backed up to its own goal line. That is something Maynard could not do this year and when the Bears’ offense did get stopped deep in its own territory, it was almost liked guaranteed points for the opponent because at the end of Maynard’s punt, the other team would already be in — or near — field goal range.

Maynard’s leg is dead. And if he wants to prove the Bears wrong, he’s going to have to prove me and most other Bears fans wrong as well. Although it’s hard to let go of a once-reliable and long-time dependable veteran player, nobody can play forever.

Just ask that quarterback up in Minnesota.

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