Ever since Josh McCown left this off-season to cash in on a big payday in Tampa Bay many wondered who would backup Jay Cutler.
On Thursday that picture may have become clearer with the signing of quarterback Jimmy Clausen to a one-year deal. Although the signing hasn't been officially announced by Bears officials, Clausen and his quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson have both confirmed the move.
Clausen, 26, is a 2010 second-round pick by the Carolina Panthers out of Notre Dame, who hasn't thrown a regular season pass since his rookie campaign. He should come in and compete for the No. 2 spot right away with veteran journeyman Jordan Palmer and sixth-round pick David Fales.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback appeared in 13 games in 2010, making 10 starts. He threw for 1,558 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions along with a 52.5 completion percentage. He posted a dreadful 1-9 record as a starter.
During the following off-season, the Panthers drafted Cam Newton No. 1 overall and sign veteran Derek Anderson. Clausen spent 2011 and 2012 as the third string quarterback often not in uniform on gamedays.
He suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder in the 2013 preseason finale forcing the Panthers to waive him in the last year of his rookie contract. He spent the entire season on the Panthers injured reserve after no team claimed him off waivers.
Now fully recovered from the labrum injury in his throwing shoulder, Clausen should be good to go well before training camp kicks off in late July.
"I am looking forward to getting on the field and trying to learn the playbook as a fast as possible," Clausen said via Chicagotribune.com.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman ran Clausen's pro day when he was preparing for the 2010 NFL Draft. Clausen flashed plenty of talent at Notre Dame, but fell flat in his biggest chance during his rookie season. However, the team around him was dreadful and he was forced into action with Matt Moore going down to a concussion.
Fast forward nearly four years and Clausen is in a better situation under Trestman's wing. He should carve out a spot with the Bears with his talents.
Palmer hasn't shown much in his time in the NFL and this move proves that Phil Emery and Trestman aren't completely comfortable with him serving as the main backup to Cutler.
In 35 games at Notre Dame, Clausen tossed 8,148 yards for 60 touchdowns and 27 interceptions while completing 62.6 percent of his passes. He also added five rushing touchdowns.
His final season for the Fighting Irish was his best. As a junior he threw for 3,722 yards, 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions while posting a career-high 68 completion percentage.
To make room for Clausen on the 90-day roster, the Bears waived linebacker Lawerence Wilson, who spent last season on the team's practice squad.
This one-year prove it deal is a low risk, high reward move by the Bears. Clausen has the talent its just the matter of putting it all together. He hasn't been able to up to this point, but did McCown do much before coming to the Bears and Trestman? No not really.
Here's what NFL.com said about Clausen during the 2010 NFL Combine:
STRENGTHS Clausen’s a highly-competitive signal-caller who was has been very productive in a pro-style system during his career. Possesses a live arm and flashes the ability to make all the NFL throws. Displays impressive accuracy in the short passing game. Is athletic and mobile for the position and can avoid the rush and make plays outside the pocket. Has a very quick delivery.
WEAKNESSES Clausen has a somewhat low release point. Release point combined with less-than-ideal height leaves Clausen susceptible to having passes batted down at the line. Has a strong arm but lacks premier arm strength and may struggle at times fitting the ball into windows deep down the field. He will be unable to participate in combine drills due to toe surgery.
Weigh in with your thoughts on the signing of Clausen? Do you feel more comfortable with him behind Cutler rather than a journeyman and a rookie?
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