Chicago Sun-Times

Countdown to free agency begins at quarterback

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Let the countdown begin.

The NFL shopping season, otherwise known as free agency, begins in 50 days. It will kick off on Feb. 27 at midnight EST, so for the Bears the action will start at 11 p.m. on the 26th.

It's a little premature to start serious speculation about what interests the Bears will or will not have, but we might as well start with the quarterback position. Remember, that is Jerry Angelo's No. 1 offseason priority. Speculation that 37-year-old Kurt Warner could come to town seems farfetched.

For starters, the Arizona coaching staff has no desire to turn over the keys to the Cardinals' offense to former first-round pick Matt Leinart. Warner has a talented group of wide receivers in Arizona, something he will not find here, and the Bears passed on chances to get him when he left St. Louis and again when he left the New York Giants. In the end, Arizona and Warner should come to the realization that they're best for one another.

So, if you rule Warner out of the equation, what's left? Not a lot to make Kyle Orton threatened. The Bears could make a play for Chris Simms, who they probably would have brought in had Tampa Bay cut him loose before the end of the preseason. David Carr, Byron Leftwich and J.P. Losman are former first-round picks who will be looking for homes. The Bears could make another run at J.T. O'Sullivan. Jeff Garcia wanted to come to the Bears when he left Philadelphia. He'll be on the market.

Here's the list of available quarterbacks. Have at it.

Unrestricted free agents

Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kyle Boller, Baltimore Ravens
Brooks Bollinger, Dallas Cowboys
Todd Bouman, Baltimore Ravens
David Carr, New York Giants
Matt Cassel, New England Patriots
Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals
Charlie Frye, Seattle Seahawks
Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rex Grossman, Bears
Gibran Hamdan, Buffalo Bills
Joey Harrington, New Orleans Saints
Byron Leftwich, Pittsburgh Steelers
J.P. Losman, Buffalo Bills
Jamie Martin, San Francisco 49ers
Luke McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dan Orlovsky, Detroit Lions
J.T. O'Sullivan, San Francisco 49ers
Patrick Ramsey, Denver Broncos
Chris Simms, Tennessee Titans
Brian St. Pierre, Arizona Cardinals
Marques Tuaisosopo, Oakland Raiders
Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals
Anthony Wright, New York Giants

Restricted free agent

Jeff Otis, Oakland Raiders

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Leftwich is a no brainer. He's starter material and actually looked better than Roethlisberger in the times he subbed him. Garcia for sure. (Can he play in the cold though?)

I would still love to see Hanie get his shot at the #2 spot. It's interesting that ran a feature story on him. Is his time sooner than later?

I am a big believer that Kyle Orton will be our franchise quarterback. If the ankle injury would not have happened I would have been shocked to see his play slide at all. He was leading us extremely well prior to that, and now at this point he just needs to continue to refine his skills and take the next step in being consistent for the long hall. If the quarterback position for the Bears had not been so horrible over the last number of years, I think everyone would agree that Kyle is where we all like, but since that ankle injury happened and his performance dipped then doubt has crept in our minds about actually finding the real thing. Obviously a "smart" team brings in a veteran back-up anyway, and someone like Garcia or Collins would be nice insurance. But until my hope is deflated I am believing in Kyle at quarterback. GO BEARS!

Wow, what a amazing group, I say scrap the scrap heap there and go after a good receiver.

Of all the QB's listed here, I believe J.T. O'Sullivan could be the most interesting. He showed a lot of promise earlier in the season, especially running an offense of Mike Martz. Leftwich is also a decent option, although his constant injuries causes alarm to many.

Wow!!! Talk about a group of losers and rejects. The only ones worth talking about have very high mileage and are potential one year stop gaps (Warner, Garcia). Cassel is a product of the system and the rest... ugh!!!

Take your pick.

It doesn't matter. Angelo is just going thru the motions to save his hide. In the end, it will be coaching, play calling and the ilimination of bad playing calling at critical times that will win the games. The Bears have none of that.
Looking at another so-so season.

Besides Cassel, and J.T. O'Sullivan which the Bears had, I don't really see much coming out the rest of this crop. I'd say wait till the draft, there has to be some no name who can carry this ball club, or just continue make more improvements to the offensive line so that we won't have to worry about if Kyle Orton should be our franchise quarterback. Oh, before I forget how about looking for some better wide recievers, this may help the so called quarterback problems we're having.

Caleb Hanie is better than any free agent listed that will be available next season. He is the starter for next season and will be a good one.

Angelo wants to bring in a great QB? Awesome! However, who in the world is Orton or anybody else going to throw to? Will the Bears ever get a #1 Wide Receiver? Shouldn't that be just as important as finding a franchise QB? A true #1 WR is going to make everyone better including Orton or another QB, Hester, Olsen, Clark, etc. I'm sorry but Lloyd, Booker, and Davis won't cut it. And Earl Bennett hasn't proved anything. If the Bears want to truly become contenders now, they will go after big names such as TJ Houshmandzadeh or Plaxico Burress at WR or Matt Cassel at QB. The Bears need bold moves in order to bring in the most talented players. Now is no time to be conservative and just wait on draft pics to pan out.

Wow.....Oprah, Chelsea Handler, Marge Schott, and Whoopi Goldberg could outdo this group. Maybe not Warner though. Turnoversaurus Rex and Rod Bla"gone"ovich could have a nice dual.

All of these QB's are terrible. Every last one of them. I still believe that Orton can be the guy and he is definately better than all on this list. It takes a QB awhile to learn a system and Orton knows it better than anyone. That is why the no huddle ran so well this year. Orton changing plays at the line was great to watch. (Grossman would just walk up to the line fumble the ball or throw an interception). Orton will only get better. Anyone else they bring in will automatically be starting from scratch.

Still we are the Bears and they will bring in some loser to compete, but WHO? Chris Simms who is Grossman with a weaker arm. JT O' Sullivan who blew for the niners. Please do not mention Warner and Garcia who both turn 38 this year. A band aid does not fix the problem. REMEMBER Kordell Stewart, what a joke that was. Then continue to look at this list of D-Bags. There is a reason most of them were not starters and if they were they've been on many teams. Theres something to be said about a QB that keeps getting cut....They SUCK.
The team needs to trade there number 1 pick for a real number 1 receiver. Then Hester will flourish and not have to be more than a number 2.

Leftwich and McCown are good back ups to give Orton and Hanie some comp. but that list is full of has-beens and never was we need O-line help and WR help as a priority the Bears have spend money on top of bad money for defense now show the offense some love and I would be willing to bet with a effecient offense the defense would be better. Some one made a good suggestion Boston College has the college version of the Vi-queens D-line one of them would help the middle and keep linemen off the linebackers.

Garcia is the only one worth considering. He's won everywhere he's gone.

Someone has to replace Grossman as the 3rd QB on the roster and all of the guys below might still have some upside left.

Kyle Boller, Baltimore Ravens
David Carr, New York Giants
Charlie Frye, Seattle Seahawks
J.P. Losman, Buffalo Bills
Patrick Ramsey, Denver Broncos
Chris Simms, Tennessee Titans

Boller went 5 picks ahead of Grossman, the Bears liked Losman, Ramsey and Chris Simms coming out of college. David Carr showed enough to be a number one pick of the expansion Texans.

Any of these guys at back up money would be a decent signing, with some upside should Orton (or Hanie) not be the answer.

The ceiling on the other guys has been established and most are clinging to spots in the league.

How much you want to bet that Patrick Ramsey is the free agent signing, to compete with Orton? We almost traded Mike Gandy for him several years ago. Would have been a pretty good deal for us if we had done it. I bet Jerry has been following him, and sees him as the "veteran insurance policy" in case Orton, Hanie, or a rookie draft pick are not ready to go.

On this list, Carr is the only one I would consider. Leftwich still has too slow of a release, and telegraphs his throws. Warner, Collins, and Garcia are poor excuses for band-aids, and Warner cannot play in the west coast offense. Orton will get better with better line play, and so will Forte. I think a player like Ramsey or a draft pick to compete with Hanie is the right way to go, at least until we see whether or not Orton can cut it. If he can't then there's always Colt McCoy next year....I am not convinced that Stafford, Bradford, Tebow, Sanchez, or any of the other QBs coming out are sure enough bets to take in the first round. Sanchez and Bradford play in the closest thing to a pro offense, but neither seems like the franchise type guys to me.

I say you focus on the trenches in the draft, bring in a moderate free agent to hold down the #2 spot, and let Orton develop. If we can pass-protect, he can start setting up to throw down the field. most of his deep throws were early because of poor pass protection, which is a big contributor to the lack of deep ball accuracy. You have to put a lot more air under the ball, and really get it out there to complete those. And for the love of god, get him someone to throw to other than Davis and Booker!

Based on the washed up, no talent, injury prone, past their prime free agent QB's available the Bears should stick with Orton, continue working with Mr. Hanie and if Mr. Drucker is available among the free agents then grab him. Oh, and how about upgrading the O line, and wide receiver position? Tough to see any QB succeeding with the Bears lack of talent on O.

I believe that there should be an asterisk next to that number one priority statement, and that is a mid-career, effective secondary player who can immediately step into the system and make in impact. The one glaring flaw that couldn't keep the defense off the field was the bears deplorable mid field secondary coverage. All field secondary coverage to be exact. With Pac-Man in the market for his next halfway house Cook county should prove to be able to handle his off the field actions and manifest his natural talent for the cornerback position.

InHester: PacMan SUCKS, he is not a cover corner and needs to stay where he is right now, out of the NFL. At 5'8 he cannot cover many receivers... maybe one of ours named Drops Davis.

As I said earlier and I agree with all that we need a receiver and to upgrade the line.

With how bad our number 1 pick has been the last few years please trade it away for an established #1 guy. This one is real easy.

Orton still is the guy, I just hope whoever we bring in will be on the cheap. Again, we wasted 5 million for Kordell and a 4-12 season that year.


All these prospects are terrible! Even Warner/Garcia have not been consistant over the years. Orton is not going anywhere and will be our QB for at least the next few years. If anything the Bears could consider a first/second/third round draft pick on another prospect and let them compete with Orton for the job. But Orton has by far been above average at the QB position (not great but just slightly above average) so there is no reason to believe that if we give him the right tools to work with he can begin to excell and be a great QB... A true number one threat at receiver to pair up with Hester & Loyd would be nice to see. A good free agent running back to pair up with Forte would be nice as well as getting Garrett Wolfe some more playing time. Finally though, if our defense had not sucked so much this year we might not even be talking about our offensive short-falls!!! I would love to see a top secondary pick in the draft along with a free-agent sign/trade at that postion. I think our defensive line can rebound next year to bring some pressure back.

Only 2 worth considering... Leftwich or Garcia and their stats

Byron Leftwish career stats in 54 Games Played in 6 Seasons...
80.3 QB Rating
58.6% Completion Percentage
9,624 Yards Passing
54 Touchdowns vs 38 interceptions (16 of those his 1st year)
9 rushing TD's
Sacked 85 times
12 Fumbles Lost (6 his first year)

Jeff Garcia career stats in 124 Games Played in 10 Seasons...
87.5 QB Rating
61.6% Completion Percentage
25,537 Yards Passing
161 Touchdowns vs 83 Interceptions
26 Rushing TD's
Sacked 181 times
23 Fumbles Lost

Other QB's stats no better than Orton's Career stats...

I agree with Joe Felicelli, I think Angelo will try and sign Patrick Ramsey. I to remember back in 2002 when Jerry Angelo tried to trade for Ramsey from the Redskins for Mike Gandy. Angelo probably does still like him, who knows? Ramsey isn't bad, but he is injury prone. The last two seasons with Denver Ramsey has completed 31 of 51 for a completion percentage of 61.0, not bad, we will just have to wait and see.

I still think Orton can be the Bears QB, Orton missed a game and was still only 28 yds shy of 3000 passing yards, and two td passes shy of 20, them aren't bad numbers, and Orton probably would have hit 3000yds and 20 td passes had he played that extra game. I think Angelo still likes Orton, he just wants to see him put together a full season, if not for the bum ankle, I really think Orton could have. Heck, before the injury, Orton was on pace for 3500 passing yards, also, I don't think its any coincidence Ortons numbers went down after the injury.

Whoever it is, Ramsey, Carr, Simms, or maybe J.P. Losman, any of these guys could be good backups, but I do like the idea of giving Caleb Hanie a shot as the backup. Chicago should take a long look at Hanie and see how he is developing before signing anyone, if he is looking good, give him a shot as the backup I say, we'll see GO BEARS!!

Kyle Orton is way better than anyone on this list. I am 40 years old and have hated our quarterback situation since I was a kid. (except for Jimmy Mac and Jim Miller for a year.)I am telling you Kyle was a top 10 Q.B before the injury this year. The poor guy tuffs it out and plays and what does he get? Crapped on by a G.M that has no idea what a good quarterback is. If Kyle can play as good as he did pre-injury with NO wideouts just think what he can do with even one decent wideout. Count the drops in the second half of the season. Jerry should not have put the blame on the Q.B. If he was worth a crap he would have traded STONEHANDS Davis back to the arena league already. I know there out of business, to bad for STONEHANDS Davis. Angelo wake up! all great quarterbacks had at least good recievers. Marino,Clayton,Duper Montana,Rice Bradshaw,Swann,Stallworth . You Get my point. Come on Jerry.....

not sure if my last post made it out...

I agree Orton did not play badly to get that crap from JA, just to shift the blame, oh well he must be our starter as it's the QB who takes the heat.
I like all these guys
Cassell is a Frnchise right?
I like Hanie too,
but with a RT/RG Hester/Forte/Orton/Olsen all would be lots better

Rex is as good as most on the list as well. I say let's draft a guy and let him play (worked for the Ravens) and not mess around with competition for Orton. He was third string for a reason for a couple seasons.

Retreads for the most part. I would rather have Rex as the backup to ORton, he knows the system and has the arm. Maybe a year of sitting as number two has made Rex a better QB? He is not worthy of #1 money but is as a number two and what happens if Orton goes down, I do not like the names I am seeing on the board as available.

I know you guys, please spare me the beating for thinking Rex still has potential and would do better than maybe only one or two of these guys on the list.

After looking at this list, Rex looks pretty good.

Biggest problem with Orton is he can't throw an accurate deep ball. That ain't gonna get fixed. Neither can Garcia. Leftwich and Warner can though.

Our QB needs to step up and take advantage of Hesters speed.

Hate to say this but....maybe take a look at Michael Vick. He'd at least make the offense worth watching and add the threat of the run. He paid his price for his dog dealing and deserves a hundred more chances like some of these other guys in the NFL that the league should have banned for life.

IMHO, the Bears should resign Rex to a modest contract with alot of performance incentives, voidable by either party after 3 years.
He is the best of the free agent bunch only because of Warner's age. I would also sign Kyle to a similar contract. I would continue to develop Haney slowly and correctly with a veteran QB coach(beneficial for Kyle and Rex as well). I believe with a little better play from the rest of the offense, the QB position would be stable for a decade.
With injuries today and the supposed emphasis on running the ball, the Bears can avoid paying a boatload to someone like Cassel who may or may not be another Scott Mitchell. Leftwich is not accurate but then again, neither is McNabb. At worst, they have 3 QBs that can play well at times, rotate to the hot one or the one with a better history against that week's opponent. Get another pounder to run the ball and a WR or 2 that can catch. Bennett, Lloyd and Rideau? Get another TE to block or toughen up the ones that are there. Get a better fullback who can actually pound holes.
Invisible player on the team who gets no criticism. Can't get a yard when needed and isn't a receiving threat.
On defense, put Alex Brown on the Left DE and give Baldwin a chance at Right DE. Payne at SS and Bowman{further out from his ACL injury and hopefully back to full speed) at FS, Vasher, Tillman, Manning, and Graham at CB. Biggest draft needs should be DE, WR, DT, RB, RT, LB.
Grossman, Mike Brown, and St. Clair.
Trade Hester for Boldin.
Cut Anderson, Hillenmeyer, and mayber Vasher.

Brooks, the reason he was a #3 for so long, just look at the wonderful talent evaluators at coach and GM.

Look i love the bears... but we need to do some upgrading on alot of things! First look the QB, Kyle Orton was way better than Sexy Rexy, but hes still playing inconsistant. Alot of that has to do with the O-line tho, i say st.clair and tait should go. Tait is getting older and st. clair is just plain horrible. We shouldve look into Faneca last year but that wont doing anything for us now so thats the past... We definitely need a #1 reciever. i liked the idea of Musin Muhammad being the possession reciever, but he is near of the end of his career... Same as Marty Booker... but we definitely need a possession/#1 reciever! dont get me started on the secondary!!! Charles Tillman and Vasher! I like vasher dont get me wrong so id give him another year but very injury prone... but Tillman has disappoitted me so much! Hes fast and pretty big for a corner, so i see him getting bumped up to a safety, thats what i would do... get payne out! hes not good in coverage and always looks for the hit... d-line needs to be more active on the line, needs to stop giving up on the rush, it seems like they do when hits the second half... i like the sound of J.Peppers from Carolina!!! people say hes lost it but that boy is fast and can get to the QB!!! Jerry Angelo if ur reading this by any chance, pay the man!

I find it interesting, all the bloggers who are saying "Give Orton another year in the system". He's been in the system 4years ! What you see is what he is. There are currently 2 rookies still playing and Kyle is home combing his beard. Perhaps the Bears #1 priority this off season should be to find a QUALITY QB coach. Pep Hamilton ? Was'nt he fired in S.F.? He ruined Rex, who has a nice deep ball and has been poorly coached since arriving,and what has he done for Orton ? We are all clamoring for Babich to be fired (and he should be)but the lack of a "teaching" position coach permeates throughout this staff. A veteran like Garcia is probably our best chance, he's been around long enough to ignore the likes of P. Hamilton.Who ever QB's this team will desparately need a reciever who has the ability to CATCH the ball, unlike the recievers currently on the roster. Forte and Olsen are the only hands on the Bears.

I want to see more Caleb Hanie. I'm not saying that he is our next starter, but he looked great in preseason so maybe he could be. As far as Orton goes...he looked pretty good before he got injured. He has some things that he needs to work on, but we all know that he will because he's a hard worker. He'll come back better next year so we'll see how he performs. As far as the third guy on the roster. I like Grossman better than most guys on the list, but unfortunately Chicago has all but ran him out of town. I say let Hanie compete for the #2 spot with a draft pick, and if he somehow looks like a starter then let him compete with Orton.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 8, 2009 6:35 AM.

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