Posted by Matt Clapp | 1/28/2014 09:44:00 PM | Free Agency, Jay Cutler, Josh McCown, Phil Emery
After putting together a sensational season in relief of Jay Cutler at quarterback for the Chicago Bears in 2013, it's been assumed that Josh McCown may seek a starting opportunity (or at least a better chance to start) on the free-agent market. Cutler of course signed a lucractive long-term deal in January to remain the Bears' starting quarterback, so as much as the Cutler haters/McCown backers want McCown to be the starting quarterback for the Bears in 2014, it's not going to happen (barring a Cutler injury).
But, the Bears have made it known to McCown that they would love to have him return as the team's backup in 2014, and Tuesday on Waddle and Silvy, McCown made it clear that he would like to return to the Bears:
"I think from both sides, when I left and was exiting and doing all those things, I think it was mutual that both [parties] want to keep working together," McCown said. "I think we understand what we are coming from there. It's just the things that I have to weigh and think about. If an opportunity does come along to start, where is that team? What kind of team is that? It's hard to leave a team, especially as a quarterback, in an offensive structure that we have and are building with the pieces that we have. So it's not so cut and dry that this team will give you an opportunity to be a starter so let's go there. I think it's weighing what all is there and what that opportunity entails. It's going to have to look really good for me to go someplace else because my heart is in Chicago and that is where I want to be."
"I think you approach the job that way you allow yourself the opportunity to improve. But again, my heart is heavy in Chicago for reasons, obviously, based on this past year -- not only for getting the opportunity to play but because of the guys in the locker room, the coaches and the organization. It's special to me. I've been a lot of places and gone through some of these things where you go in some place and compete to be a starter. So I'll take those situations as they come and evaluate them, if they do come. All of those things are still up in the air. We'll see some weeks from me, but right now as far as I'm concerned, I'm a Chicago Bear. My heart is there. Until something doesn't work out or it changes, that's where I hope to be."
Source: ESPN Chicago
McCown, who will be 35 in July, threw 13 touchdowns, just one interception, while having a completion percentage of 66.5% of and a quarterback rating of 109.0 in 2013. Take a quick look at McCown's career stats and you'll realize he's never had a season anything close to his 2013 campaign with the Bears. Along with wanting to remain with the Bears for the reasons he told Waddle and Silvy, McCown surely realizes that Marc Trestman, Trestman's system, and the Bears' outstanding weapons made him look like a much better quarterback than he'll likely look anywhere else.
Additionally, most NFL teams around the league probably feel the same way in regards to McCown's 2013 success. There are certainly teams out there that would love to have McCown's services and may view him as a guy that could at least compete for a starting job, but no team out there is going to pay him quite like a quarterback with his 2013 numbers would typically be paid.
If the Bears were to let McCown walk, they have no in-house quarterback option to back up Cutler, and using a pick in the draft to take a quarterback (and likely a pick in the first few rounds if the quarterback were to be Cutler's primary backup) is something the team doesn't want to do with so many needs on the defensive side of the ball. And if they were to look for another quarterback in free agency, that quarterback would likely be as expensive to sign as keeping McCown would be anyway (assuming McCown were to sign at a least a slightly discounted price).
Also, keep in mind Cutler's recent injury history (especially in the concussion department) when it comes to McCown, and how valuable McCown proved to be in 2013 when Cutler went down.
So, with all of the information we have at hand, it's hard to see the two sides not coming to an agreement. The Bears want McCown and McCown wants the Bears.
Honestly, I think the two sides may have already gotten a contract worked out... if they could have. Due to McCown signing a one-year deal for the veteran minimum with the Bears in 2013, the team would not be able to re-sign him until free agency begins on March 11. But, the Bears do hold exclusive negotiating rights with McCown until that date.
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