The re-signing of quarterback Jordan Palmer passed almost without a ripple last Sunday. He didn’t get his own press release or even top billing on the one announcing his return with a one-year contract (defensive tackle Nate Collins was the first name).
But a situation is now perhaps in place that could set the stage for the “next” Josh McCown: Palmer.
The move to re-sign him was a clear indicator at the time that the Bears were hedging at No. 2 quarterback. They didn’t expect to be able to re-sign McCown, particularly with the numbers lesser backups were receiving (Chad Henne, two years, $8 million; Matt Cassel, two years, $10 million). Their anticipated scenario came to pass when McCown on Wednesday signed a two-year deal with Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a potential to top out at $15 million.
General manager Phil Emery confirmed on Wednesday what was apparent last training camp when Palmer was brought in as an emergency preseason arm when Matt Blanchard was hurt, and when Palmer was brought back and kept on the roster when Jay Cutler was hurt:
The Bears liked Palmer. A lot. And with a coaching staff of Marc Trestman, Aaron Kromer and Matt Cavanaugh handling quarterbacks, a career jump-restart for Palmer the kind McCown’s received perhaps shouldn’t be a total surprise if it occurs.
“We like Jordan Palmer,” Emery said. “That’s why we brought him back. He’s a guy that fit in incredibly quick. He was a good influence in the room. He has got good intelligence. I think he showed our fans in the Cleveland (preseason) game that he has a good arm and he’s an accurate player that makes quick decisions.
“We want him to develop, and obviously the nice thing about Jordan is that, not only the experience of coming back here, but he has been a backup for a number of years in the league in Cincinnati. He has that experience. He knows what those responsibilities entail.”
If the market leaves another backup available, the Bears would consider bringing in another veteran, though they have rarely started seasons with two veteran backups on the opening-day roster.
They have Jerrod Johnson signed to a reserve/futures contract already, and “at some point we’ll probably bring in a bunch of veterans after this wave of free agency — this first and second wave — and we take a look at who’s still looking for an opportunity, and we’ll bring them in and we’ll try them out and we may sign another one.”
Emery was resigned to not being able to keep McCown after the latter had one of the great fill-in seasons in NFL history stats-wise. Emery and the coaching staff know they’ll likely have to defend McCown when the Buccaneers visit Soldier Field at a yet-unspecified date, but all were clearly pleased that McCown was getting a shot he’s earned.
“We all want to congratulate Josh,” Emery said. “He has 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.
“Obviously, we look forward to competing against him on the field, but very happy for him that he has had this opportunity. That’s what I talked about postseason about that Josh has earned the right and the respect to be given the opportunity to go and look, and he found that opportunity, and we’re very happy for him.”