Tying together the loose ends from another busy offseason day even if the Bears did not sign any free agents Thursday ...
Wide receiver Marty Booker, fresh off a Jamaican vacation, checked in on a conference call. Some highlights:
Q: What are your thoughts on returning to the Bears?
A: It’s good to be back. Plus, No. 1 it’s good to have a job. For a point there I was pretty worried about whether it was going to happen or not. To finally have a job and to be back with the team I started with is awesome.
Q: What do you make of the quarterback situation?
A: I’m not too familiar with Kyle [Orton], I’m pretty familiar with Rex [Grossman]. My understanding, I am thinking it will be an open competition and whoever wins the job is going to have it. No matter who is in there, I will be supportive of whoever, just going out there and trying to make plays. That’s pretty much all I know right now, how it’s going down.
Q: How would you compare yourself to when you left here in 2004:
A: I feel I am still the same guy. I just feel I didn’t get the opportunities I wished when I was in Miami having to take the backseat to being the No. 1 guy and everything. Given opportunities, I know I can still play this game at a high level.
Q: What do you recall about Rex?
A: I know I was the person to catch his first touchdown pass, I know that. We’ve got a little bit of history. I think Rex the time he has been there, I think he has done a real good job there. He is the type of guy who has gotten a lot of backlash about injuries and staying healthy. The whole year they went to the Super Bowl and then a lot of controversy there, but I think Rex is a good player. The time I was there, I really like Rex. Unfortunately, I had to leave, and I thought we would be a good connection. By coming back hopefully we can get that connection rekindled.
Just for fun, we’ve compiled a list of starting quarterbacks Booker has played with.
Henry Burris, Chris Chandler, Rex Grossman, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Kordell Stewart, John Beck, Daunte Culpepper, A.J. Feeley, Jay Fiedler, Gus Frerotte, Trent Green, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon and Sage Rosenfels. Don’t forget, Corey Sauter got on the field for the Bears in the 2002 season finale (in relief of the starter Burris). If you had the name of every quarterback to play anywhere in the league since 1999 in a fish bowl, it would be hard to blindly draw 17 and get a more motley bunch.
*** Agent Joe Linta reported the Bears were one of about 15 teams in attendance for Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco’s pro day Thursday.
The Bears have been tracking Flacco since the middle of his junior season when college scouting director Greg Gabriel saw him play while there to examine former Blue Hens tight end Ben Patrick. Flacco impressed scouts at the combine and the Bears also kept close tabs on him in January at the Senior Bowl. No private workouts have been scheduled at this point, according to Linta, but word last month was the Bears were expected to bring him to Halas Hall this month.
*** The team doesn’t appear to have matching interest in Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson. Maybe they saw all they needed of him when Gabriel visited Lexington last Nov. 18 for the quadruple-overtime thriller with Tennessee.
The Bears did not attend Woodson’s pro day workout at the school Wednesday.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported representatives from 25 NFL teams were on hand. The Louisville Courier-Journal identified the seven not there as the Bears, Atlanta, Buffalo, Tennessee Seattle, Oakland and Washington. A coach who was there for the workout confirmed the Bears were not one of the teams present. Woodson skipped out on the workouts at the combine last month. His stock has been falling but reports were he might have steadied himself.
It will only take one team to like Woodson come the first day of the draft. He’s got good size at 6-4, 229 pounds, and a strong arm. But his slow release has been knocked and he was susceptible to being sacked in school. He wasn’t the only high-profile quarterback to not work out at the combine. Boston College’s Matt Ryan will hold his workout later this month.
*** Now that the fast and loose spending is pretty much wrapped up in free agency, teams are looking for bargain buys. Wide receiver Rashied Davis, a restricted free agent, just might be one of those. The Kansas City Chiefs are believed to be interested in him, and why not, they have only four receivers on their roster—Dwayne Bowe, Jeff Webb, Bobby Sippio and Maurice Price.
Davis would probably be angling for a three- or four-year deal in an offer sheet. The Bears tendered him at the low level of $927,000 and had informal discussions about a potential multi-year contract at the combine.
*** Defensive tackle Antonio Garay has been informed he’s not in the team’s plans. Garay is rehabilitating his fractured right leg suffered in the Washington game Dec. 6. The Bears are on the hook for the rehab until he can pass a physical. The team liked what it saw in rookie Matt Toeaina after signing him off the Bengals’ practice squad following Garay’s injury. Agent Brad Blank said he hopes to have Garay placed elsewhere by spring.
*** Think the Bears can’t recover from losing Pro Bowl special teams player Brendon Ayanbadejo in free agency to Baltimore?
Defensive backs Todd Johnson, Dante Wesley and Cameron Worrell all departed following the 2006 season when they combined to account for 51 tackles on special teams and the Bears ranked No. 1 in the league according to the system devised by Dallas Morning News’ writer Rick Gosselin. Without those three, the Bears were tops again this past season.
*** Cool unrelated note of the day ... veteran punter Sean Landeta officially retired, making him the last player to have played in the USFL to call it a career. The USFL kicked off 25 years ago today.
Landeta was an NFL rookie in 1985 with the New York Giants when they came to Soldier Field for a divisional playoff game. Punting from his own end zone with a howling wind, he nearly missed the ball, just barely touching it off the side of his right foot. Shaun Gayle scooped the rolling ball up at the five-yard line and scored the first touchdown in a 21-0 rout on the Bears' way to Super Bowl XX.