One of the biggest moves affecting the Chicago Bears this off-season took place on Wednesday as the free agency period crept on, but it wasn’t them bringing in a new talent or securing an established one.
Josh McCown shot into the Bears’ consciousness last season by replacing Jay Cutler when injured and showing a grasp of Marc Trestman’s offense that caused many to believe he was really the man to call signals for the team.
Of course, the Bears didn’t see things that way — Cutler re-uped his contract in January and officially the team became his — but in several public statements coach Trestman and general manager Phil Emery stated that it was a priority to bring McCown back.
Whatever the Bears’ brass tried, it was hard for them to match a raise of over 500%, that’s what McCown is looking forward to after signing a two-year deal with Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
The Bears countered somewhat by securing backup QB Jordan Palmer for next season, but with McCown’s departure the team is losing more than a little bit of juice heading into next season. Also, there’s the loss of security in case Cutler — via injury or pure mediocrity — doesn’t show any progression in year two under Trestman.
McCown Gets His
But, of course, none of that is McCown’s problem, not any more.
In reports and interviews throughout the off-season the former journeyman expressed his gratitude for his experience with the Bears and his appreciation for Chicago and its fans but his upswing as a wanted man in the League coincided with several teams being in need of new quarterbacks at one time along with the NFL boosting up its salary cap, which has spurred an incredible amount of spending already in free agency.
The Bucs have been among the most frequent and quality spenders, acquiring all-pro talent defensively in Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner on Day 1 while McCown was being wooed.
Its not known if Tampa’s aggressiveness pulled McCown in along with the money offered ($4.75 million for 2014-15, the same amount guaranteed and as much as $10 million for two years) but it has to be believed that the possibility to start for the Buccaneers did.
Lovie Smith, now the head guy down there, who first put McCown in Chicago in 2012, didn’t give him the job of starter officially but did say that the new acquisition will dictate the competition at his position, even comparing McCown’s status to that of all-pro Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle.
McCown entered a brave new world when he dared to show that he still had fire in his arm last season and his boldness got him a brand new start and his biggest professional pay day at the age of 34, pretty much unheard of in the NFL.
For many Bears fans a side eye was already figured to be devoted to the Bucs in this coming year due to the presence of Lovie, now with McCown that side eye has to be upgraded to a double take.
New signing — M.D. Jennings
Melvin Delanie Jennings (unfortunately not “Mad Dog”) is the newest member of the Bears, moreover its secondary and moreover its safety corps, helping offer Bears nation one more salvo against the suckiness of Chris Conte.
M.D. will stand as competition for Conte at free safety, the 6-foot, 187 pound former Green Bay Packer started all 16 games at that position last season, making him eligible enough for me despite his lack of any interceptions last season. Jennings signed a one-year deal for an undisclosed amount.
As it stands, this is still a good pickup, taking a starting talent from one of the Bears’ greatest rivals and strengthening maybe the weakest position execution-wise on the defense.
The Bears, strapped more for cash than they’d like entering free agency, were not in a position to throw money at the likes of T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd but they targeted proven talents at both safety positions and are still in a position of flexibility with either contract, making it easy to even bring in rookie talent in the draft to help compete as well.
Add in the earlier re-signing of Tim Jennings and it has already been a successful off-season as far as the secondary is concerned in spite of the cliffhanger that is Charles Tillman’s free agent exploration.
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