The Bears were unable to keep backup quarterback Josh McCown in the windy city.
The 34-year-old veteran agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with Lovie Smith’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday, according to his agent Mike McCartney.
McCown will earn $4.75 million in 2014 and $5.25 million in 2015. With incentives he can earn up to $15 million. The Bucs will be McCown’s eighth team in 11 NFL seasons.
McCown turned plenty of heads with his performance in 2013. The Sam Houston State product started five games in the place of the injured Jay Cutler.
In those five starts, he completed 149 of 224 passes (66.5 percent) for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and only one interception. He posted a QB rating of 109, which was the third highest behind only Peyton Manning and Nick Foles.
He finishes his three-year career with the Bears with a 4-3 record, including a 3-2 record in 2013. McCown averaged 228.6 passing yards per game.
Prior to coming to the Bears, McCown spent two seasons in Carolina (2008-09), one in Oakland (2007), one in Detroit (2006) and four with the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Arizona.
The Bears simply couldn’t afford to keep McCown this off-season coming off his best season as a pro. With the Bucs, he should get a chance to compete for the starting job with second-year quarterback Mike Glennon down in Tampa. When asked if Josh was his quarterback, Lovie Smith simply said “yes, he is.”
“We all want to congratulate Josh. He’s been provided with a great opportunity to be a starter down there in Tampa. We’re very happy for him and very proud for him,” Phil Emery said. “Obviously we look forward to competing against him on the field; very happy for him that he’s had this opportunity. Josh has earned the right and respect to be given the opportunity.”
McCown arguably excelled at a higher level than Cutler in 2013, but he hasn’t proven to be anything more than a backup without quarterback guru Marc Trestman.
The Bears host the Bucs at Soldier Field in 2014. It will be interesting to see Cutler and Trestman square off against McCown and Smith.
Jordan Palmer re-signed with the Bears last week on a one-year deal and should get a chance to earn a spot on the roster. Expect the Bears however to pursue a backup via free agency or through the draft.
Emery and Co. have realized how important a backup quarterback is for this team. Especially with the medical history that Cutler has dealt with.
“Obviously we’re going to look at the draft for our an opportunity to add to our quarterback roster,” Emery said on Wednesday to the media. “At some point we’ll bring in a bunch of veterans after this first and second wave of free agency. We’ll bring him in, try them out and we might sign another one.”
Look for more news to come out of Halas Hall in this opening week of free agency.
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