With free agency set to open March 11, we’ll shine the spotlight on the Bears’ free agents and examine each player’s likelihood to return. As the Combine gets underway, today our lens shifts to quarterback Josh McCown.
Check out previous spotlights:
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 35
NFL seasons logged (with Bears): 11 (3)
2013 stats: Played in 8 games with 5 starts. Completed 66.5% of passes for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and 1 INT, QB rating of 109.0.
Quotable: “Love to have Josh back. I’ve expressed that to him. Josh, through his play, has earned the right to have choices, and he’s got a lot of them and he’ll have a lot of them. He does know that he has a home here and that we’ll do everything we can to make it work if he decides he still wants to play here. … He deserves to have those choices, and he deserves the space and room to make them.” - Phil Emery to reporters on Jan. 2.
“I’d like to see him come back. There was talks about him retiring and there was talks about him getting other opportunities, and I think rightfully so. We’ve had candid talks about what he wants to do. I’ll let Josh address that when he wants to. I know we’d love to have him back. I know Phil touched on it. We’d like to have him back in the building just because of the amount of work he does behind the scenes with the younger players and myself. Just the experience he brings to the quarterback room, it’s very valuable. We’ll see how that works out. The guys in the locker room are hoping that we see 12 back next year.” – Jay Cutler to reporters on Jan. 2
"Obviously I would love to stay in Chicago but I would be foolish to not listen to other offers from interested teams." – Josh McCown on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Feb. 12
Fit with Bears: Is there a better fit among the other free agents? McCown was so effective last season filling in for Cutler that a quarterback controversy began, though, mainly outside the walls of Halas Hall. Emery, Cutler, Marc Trestman and the rest of the offense would all want McCown back. He knows the system, he thrived in the system and he’s great in the locker room. Even if the Bears want to add a third, younger quarterback, McCown still fits as better insurance if Cutler gets hurt and he can help mentor the youngster.
Financials: I outlined the backup quarterback market here. Teams that paid their starting quarterback the type of guaranteed money that Cutler is getting generally didn’t spend much on a backup. Shaun Hill was the only such backup making more than $1 million in base salary after Kyle Orton had his contract restructured.
Based on the way McCown played, though, he should be looking at the $2-3 million-a-year range that the best backups received last offseason.
Best guess: There is clear, mutual interest between McCown and the Bears, but both sides acknowledge that the 35-year-old signal caller has earned a chance to see what the market has for him. Assuming there is not a team that can promise McCown an opportunity to at least compete to start, he will have to weigh his options of being a No. 2 in terms of money and situation. As a backup, Chicago has a great situation for McCown, but can the Bears offer him the best contract? The Bears may also think that Trestman can plug another, cheaper veteran into the system to be Cutler’s backup.