The expected release of Jerrod Johnson by the Bears on Thursday set the stage for what projects to be one of the significant position battles when training camp begins next month.
The release of Johnson positions Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer to compete for one spot as Jay Cutler’s backup. The Bears used a sixth-round pick on David Fales as a developmental quarterback, who is not assured of a roster spot, but the Bears will not go into the regular season with two veterans occupying roster spots behind Cutler.
Neither Clausen nor Palmer has thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2010. Palmer had a solid one-game preseason last year, emerging ahead of Trent Edwards in a two-man competition for a spot on the Bears’ rolodex in case of an emergency need at the position.
Normally the competition for a spot down the depth chart is of only marginal interest. But Jay Cutler has not played 16 games in a season since his first in Chicago (2009) and the Bears missed the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 in part because Cutler’s backups – Caleb Hanie, Jason Campbell – failed to win any of five starts in Cutler’s stead.