In late March, as the NFL Draft was approaching, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery made a statement by saying there was no reason to draft a QB unless you did it during the first three rounds of the draft. Shortly afterward, the team selected QB David Fales in the 6th round. Now, Emery is proclaiming Jordan Palmer as the team’s No. 2 QB heading into OTAs, while at the same time continually adding more QBs to the roster. Earlier this week, the Bears signed former Carolina Panthers backup Jimmy Clausen to a one year deal. Clausen will battle Palmer, Fales and Jerrod Johnson for the backup spot.
For those keeping score at home, that makes five QBs on the roster, if you don’t include former Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch, whom the Bears have transitioned to RB. Given Clausen’s lack of NFL success, there are only two logical explanations for the Bears bringing him in. The first is to keep the pressure on Fales and Palmer to preform at their best. Though while head coach Marc Trestman is touting Clausen’s mental toughness as a large reason the team wanted to bring him in, carrying five QBs on the roster through training camp seems like a waste of a roster spot.
If the purpose for signing Clausen was to add pressure to the other QBs in order to motivate them, then the Bears should have simply let Lynch have a shot at playing QB. They would have given up one roster spot for a player who can play two positions. Granted Lynch would have gotten less snaps at RB, but as a QB, he would have learned where everyone belonged on every play, and with 4,304 rushing yards and 47 TDs in his collegiate career, it’s obvious that he knows how to run the ball.
Now, if motivation isn’t the case, the only other explanation is that the Bears staff simply doesn’t have faith in Palmer or Fales as the backup to Jay Cutler. Let’s not forget that Cutler has become injury prone as of late, missing 13 regular seas games over the past four season due to various injuries. For the Bears, the backup QB is a position of need after Josh McCown left via free agency. If history tells us anything, the Bears will only carry two QBs on their final roster. If Clausen hopes to make that spot as the No.2, he will need to beat out Palmer and Fales. While Fales and Palmer have more time spent in the Bears’ system, Clausen has a lot more game experience than either of them.
If Clausen preforms well during training camp and makes the final roster, Palmer and Johnson will most likely be cut and Fales will be relegated to the practice squad, if for no other reason than the Bears used a draft pick on him and will want him around for the future.
Either way, the backup QB position just became one of the most intriguing battles to watch over the coming months.