Veteran quarterback Todd Collins' decision to exercise patience has paid off.
When the Bears initially contacted him about eight days ago, Collins wanted the club to show him some money, to ensure he wasn't going to be a "camp arm." With Caleb Hanie sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Bears needed another quarterback to help Jay Cutler and rookie Dan LeFevour.
Collins didn't want to head to Bourbonnais, make $1,425 a week and then get cut before the season.
He signed a one-year deal today because the Bears made him a six-figure guarantee worth about $150,000. That means, at worst, Collins gets that much for about two weeks of work. And if he makes the opening-day roster, Collins will be guaranteed his entire 2010 base salary. Here's the interesting part: the veteran minimum for Collins is $855,000. But, the Bears are going to pay him seven figures, if he makes the roster, and they'll guarantee him about $150,000 regardless.
But indications are, Collins will have a chance to make a run at the backup quarterback position, which may be what he wants most.
"I'm out there to compete," Collins said. "I'm not going to sell myself short. I've been the No. 2 guy for a long time. You always try to play at the level the starter is playing at and ideally you can step in there and contribute just like the starter did.
"That's always been my goal throughout my career. Wherever I stack up at the end, we'll see."
Hanie, by numerous accounts, was doing a fine job of learning Mike Martz's offense. But he is missing invaluable practice and game time with his shoulder injury. That's not his fault, but it's just the way it is.
With Cutler entrenched as the clear-cut, undisputed starter, Hanie needed training camp and the preseason to get his work in.
Now, with him sidelined for at least another week, Collins has a chance to make a move. And while Hanie was new to Martz's style of offense, Collins learned it under Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders in Kansas City. From 2001 to 2005, Vermeil was the Chiefs' head coach, and Saunders the offensive coordinator.
Saunders was the assistant head coach and receivers coach with the St. Louis Rams in 1999 and 2000, working alongside Martz.
"I'm familiar with the system," Collins said. "I agree with the philosophy. After hearing what coach Martz has done and talking to some of the people who worked with him, I figured it was too good of an opportunity to turn down."
Once he dusts off the cobwebs, Collins should be able to show a competence and command of Martz's offense.
How long will it take him?
"I don't think it should take too long," Collins said. "I think the core of the offense is the same. He's tweaked some stuff since I was in the offense a few years back but the basics of the offense and the philosophy is the same so I don't anticipate it will take too long."
Indications are, the Bears may lean toward keeping three quarterbacks during the season: Cutler, Collins and Hanie. The Bears are also expected to try and carry Dan LeFevour, a sixth-round pick, on the practice squad.
As for Matt Gutierrez, the Bears may give him a few more days to make an impression. But the odds are stacked against him to stick around past this weekend.