Chicago Bears free agent quarterback options

Chicago Bears free agent quarterback options
Hi, guys. Remember me?

Want to know why nobody wants to write this post? Because the Bears could announce tomorrow—or RIGHT NOW, for that matter (damn, I better hurry)—that they’ve signed someone. And it could very well turn out to be none of the ones the dufus writer (me) mentioned.

Well, it just so happens that you’re talking to the dufus writer who successfully predicted Todd Collins to the Bears in 2010, even while others laughed at me, so put that in your Tom Collins and sip it lightly. Where was I? Oh, yes …

With free agent QB Jason Campbell now headed to the Cleveland Browns, the Chicago Bears are in need of someone to backup starting quarterback Jay Cutler. The only other passer on the roster is former undrafted free agent Matt Blanchard, who is raw and not ready to start in the NFL should the Bears need him to do so.

It is entirely possible, mind you, that Phil Emery plans to address the quarterback position in the upcoming Draft. But given his current list of needs, his placement in said Draft, and the thin class of offensive signal callers actually available, he should not expect to come out with someone who’s ready to start in 2013.

Which means they will likely still look to Free Agency to address a secondary need at the position. Former Bears’ QB Josh McCown is also a free agent, and there have been no reports to suggest Chicago would like him to return. That, of course, does not rule him out as a candidate.

But of the available free agents, exactly who is the best option? Well, let’s take a look:

1. Kevin Kolb (28)

If you’re a team looking for a backup QB (maybe even a starter), I think Kolb has to be first on your list of those still available in Free Agency. The issue? Well, it could come down to price. Kolb is still young for the position at 28, but he’s coming off a $64 million-dollar contract that included $21 million in guarantees with Arizona, so he probably won’t come at a bargain-basement rate, even after failing to live up to his paycheck.

Kolb had been due $9 million in salary this season, plus a $2 million-dollar roster bonus, before the Cardinals cut him earlier this month. The Bears paid Campbell a hearty $3 million in 2012 to backup Cutler, and Kolb may be able to be had for somewhere near there, but reports suggest Arizona left the door open for him to stay assuming they could get together on a pay cut but nothing materialized.

Additionally, he may be more keen on an opportunity to challenge for a starting role, like, say, with a certain New York team that doesn’t have a Manning on the roster. But that’s a guess. I still believe he’s the top-target, I just don’t foresee a deal with the Bears.

2. Brian Hoyer (27)

I’m putting him on this list because of his potential as a passer, but for all intents and purposes, Brian Hoyer is off the market as a restricted free agent unless a team wants to give up a second-round pick to take a chance on him. I suppose it’s possible, given the perceived weakness of this year’s Draft, but I doubt it. So, while I’d like to see him as Chicago’s No. 2, Bears won’t pony up.

3. Rex Grossman (32)

It was always meant to happen, wasn’t it? The return of “Sexy Rexy.” Probably the most talented quarterback Chicago Bears fans ever ran out of this town with pitchforks and blazing torches in-hand. Don’t worry, Cutler, you’ll be next if the rabids in the nosebleeds at Soldier Field have their way.

The Redskins actually want Grossman, who earned $950,000 in base salary in 2012, back. So if the Bears are interested, they’ll need to make a move quickly. There is no doubt that the idea of returning to Chicago could look daunting to Grossman. When asked about returning last season to face his former team, he said, “I still love Chicago. I love the city, the tradition, the team and everything about it. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

I know there is still a bad taste in the collective mouth of Bears fans over the team’s loss in Super Bowl XLI, of which Rex played his part, but among those QBs on the market, he absolutely cannot be crossed off this list because of it.

4. Vince Young (29)

Young has more experience on gameday than most of the free agents currently available, but his sub-60 career completion percentage is a hump he’ll have to climb over if he wants a return to the NFL.

He took a seat on the couch in 2012, watching the NFL from the comfy confines of his Houston home, but he’d like nothing more than a comeback tour in 2013, even if it does entail holding a clipboard. He may or may not return to the NFL in 2013, but I believe the Bears could be a great landing spot. He recently threw some balls at the Texas Pro Day and mildly turned a few heads.

5. Josh McCown (33)

He seems to have been the team’s go-to-guy year after year whenever they needed a last-minute stand-in, and while he’s not exactly a perfect option, he is an option. He started two games for the Bears in 2011, while playing in three, completing 63.6% of his passes for 414 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Also, as a point of fact, I know one guy on the roster in his court is Jay Cutler, who praises McCown’s knowledge of the game and ability to read the defense.

6. Sage Rosenfels (35)

Why would I even consider a 35 year-old Sage Rosenfels, who hasn’t played a game since 2010, over a guy like Brady Quinn or Tyler Thigpen, you ask? I’m not. Really, I’m not. I only mention him as an off possibility because he does share direct connections with Marc Trestman, who coached Rosenfels in Miami in 2004, where Trestman served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

Just to make sure I give you the entire story here, it’s not like Trestman should hold any nostalgia regarding Rosenfel’s performance during that time period, as he only made one start that year completing just 16 of 38 passes for 264 yards, one TD and three interceptions. Oh, and he spent a season with the division-rival Vikings in 2012, so there’s that.

Not likely, but I thought failing to mention the only FA QB with direct connections would be a failure.

Other FA QBs not mentioned:

  • Brady Quinn
  • Byron Leftwich
  • Caleb Hanie
  • Charlie Batch
  • John Beck
  • Jordan Palmer
  • Kellen Clemens
  • Luke McCown
  • Matt Leinart
  • Seneca Wallace
  • Tyler Thigpen

Some might suggest the Bears take a chance on an inaccurate athlete in Brady Quinn or a Tyler Thigpen, say, and you’d be entitled to those utterly ridiculous opinions (insert smiley face here), but I’ve seen enough of both and some of the others on this list to not have them named.


Some things to remember are that while a veteran backup QB is going to come at a higher rate simply based on veteran minimums, the experience is sometimes valued in the backup role. But really, that’s probably old thinking. Having said that, it could make sense for the Bears to invest in a veteran, while looking toward the Draft to bring in developmental youth at the position.

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Filed under: Free Agency

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