We were flipping through a few baseball games earlier this evening when the United Football League sent out a press release, oh, about the time Jayson Werth was circling the bases in Philadelphia following his three-run home run. The upstart league announced that quarterback JP Losman has been signed to play for the Las Vegas franchise.
"The United Football League is providing me with the opportunity to play the sport I love at a high level and for that, I am extremely grateful," Losman said. "There are many players just like me who possess the skills to compete at the highest levels and just need the playing time to showcase their talents. The United Football League is filling that void and giving more players the opportunity to play. I am excited to get back out onto the field and represent Las Vegas during the league's first season."
That removes one experienced quarterback from the list of players the Bears could consider if they go shopping. That probably will not happen unless Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez bomb out in training camp and preseason. Hanie is in position to become the No. 2 behind Jay Cutler and the Bears--coach Lovie Smith included--really haven't wavered off that. Smith said back at the scouting combine that he was comfortable with the players the Bears had at the time. We've written it before here, Hanie's physical tools probably make him a better athletic match to a guy like Cutler than Kyle Orton. We're not saying Hanie is going to become Cutler, but like Cutler he has some ability to scramble and keep plays alive in the pocket. Hanie also throws a pretty good deep ball.
Brian Griese, the ex-Bear, remains the most attractive option on the open market. His agent Ralph Cindrich told us last week that Griese hopes to remain in the game but he wants to play. Presumably, that means he wants to be in position to play and being behind Cutler might be like being behind John Elway. Griese did that for a year in Denver. It got him a Super Bowl ring.
The other candidates on the market will probably stop fans from clamoring for an experienced backup. Cleo Lemon? Gus Frerotte? Quinn Gray? Losman, who was a first-round pick by Buffalo, would be worth a look before those guys and the UFL contract will prevent him from returning to the league until the UFL season concludes Thanksgiving weekend.
*** Here is a story about Cliff Stein's arrival to the Bears in 2002 we had not heard. Jack Bechta at the National Football Post details how when Stein was a New Jersey-based agent, he and general manager Jerry Angelo crossed paths at a college game. Stein was there, no doubt, working to recruit a prospect. Angelo was there scouting prospects. Where were they? A Hampton-Howard tilt.
Stein negotiates contracts for the Bears now and serves as the organization's general counsel.