The Bears signed QB Jimmy Clausen today. This is a surprising move considering that most people thought the Bears were satisfied with their current QB depth of Cutler, Palmer, Fales, and Johnson. The Bears only carried three QBs on their 90-man roster last year (Blanchard), so it seems strange to me that Trestman would have 5 in camp this year. Did one of the QBs get hurt in OTAs? Or maybe not play as well as expected? Or maybe Trestman just considers Clausen an upgrade over Jerrod Johnson or Palmer? We’ll know more when the Bears make a roster move to accommodate the Clausen signing.
Jimmy Clausen (6’3, 217) was a 2nd round pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2010 draft (48th overall). Coming out of college he was projected by most draftniks as a potential top 10 pick, but both QB Sam Bradford (1st) and QB Tim Tebow (25th) were selected before him. Rumors were that he dropped in the draft due to concerns over his attitude and leadership ability with scouts using descriptions like “jerk”, “condescending”, and “annoyingly cocky”. Besides the negativity about his attitude, the other primary concerns were the lack of elite arm strength and a three-quarter arm slot that could lead to deflected passes.
The rest of Clausen’s scouting report is what you would expect from a guy projected to be a top 10 pick. He has a very quick release, elite accuracy on short-to-intermediate passes, high football intelligence, above-average athleticism and a good enough arm to make all the throws. There is a lot to like about Clausen, but he did struggle in limited playing time with the Panthers.
As a rookie Clausen appeared in 13 games with 10 starts and went 1-9 as a starter. He only completed 52.5% of his passes for 1,558 yards with 3 TD passes with 9 picks. Clausen was also sacked 33 times and had 9 fumbles, almost 1 per start. In his defense, he had very little talent around him with a Panthers team that finished 2-14. It was pretty clear that Clausen wasn’t ready to start as a rookie, but the Panthers gave up on him quickly selecting Cam Newton 1st overall in 2011. They also signed Derek Anderson as a back-up and Clausen never took another NFL snap. He was released in final cuts last year and after clearing waivers was placed on the Panthers injured reserve.
Marc Trestman does have a little history with Clausen, he ran Clausen’s pro day back in 2010. Clausen actually has a very similar scouting report as Josh McCown, they are both very accurate short passers with quick releases and high football IQs. Maybe Trestman sees a similar skill-set in Clausen and hopes to catch lighting in a bottle again. You have to assume Fales is safe as a recent draft pick, which would pit Palmer vs Clausen for the 3rd and final QB spot. He’s only three years removed from being the 48th overall player in the draft so there is some talent there and it never hurts to bring in legitimate competition. Keeping 5 QBs on the roster seems like a waste of a roster spot (or two) so my prediction is that Jerrod Johnson gets released in the next day or two.
UPDATE: The Bears have released LB Lawrence Wilson to make room for Jimmy Clausen. I guess they are going with 5 QBs on the 90-man roster.