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Josh McCown: If I leave Bears in free agency, it will be for a starting quarterback job
Josh McCown likened the NFL’s legal tampering period to a junior high school dance: until he can talk to teams himself Tuesday at 3 p.m., the Bears’ backup quarterback is left to hear from his agent which teams might be interested. The Bears cannot re-sign him until after the NFL’s business season opens Tuesday, per his contract.
“This four-day window to talk,” he said on ESPN1000 AM, “is, everyone’s kinda walking around looking at each other.”
McCown is talking about it, for sure. He spent Monday going through the ESPN “car wash,” a series of radio and television interviews in which he’s talked about the possibility to signs as a starter somewhere, or if he re-signs with the Bears.
In a series of interviews today, here’s what he said:
• Four teams are interested in him. Beside the Bears, other teams known to be searching for a starter who can develop a young quarterback are the Jets, Texans and Buccaneers.
McCown could help mentor Geno Smith (Jets), Mike Glennon (Buccaneers) or, perhaps, a high Texans quarterback draft pick.
• The ability to start somewhere else could influence his departure from the Bears — but that’s not the only factor.
“To leave Chicago, it would be a situation where I’m looking to be able to compete to start or grow more as a player,” he said. “The only way you can do that as a player is on the field.”
While a starting job is the opportunity he’s looking for “if I leave Chicago,” he said, there are other factors to consider: “What’s the coaching staff?” he asked. “What are the players there in place?”
Asked what he would prioritize in a new team, McCown was vague, saying that “probably the situation and coaching staff,” and how he fits in the plan, would steer his decision. He said “family is a huge consideration,” too; he’s managed to stay close to his in North Carolina despite being far away. He said staying in Charlotte was important — his daughter is in high school — but his family might consider moving to Chicago if he re-signs.
• His heart is in Chicago. McCown said he was “thankful” to be a free agent and “excited” to see what happens. He described starter Jay Cutler as “close to a brother,” and said he’s spoken to him regularly throughout the offseason.
“Chicago has a special place in my heart,” he said. “Hoping that there’s still possibilities there for me.”
Still, he knows that teammates eventually become ex-teammates.
“Those things are hard,” he said, “but it’s inevitable in this business.”
• He trusts the Bears. McCown said that he believed in coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery’s plan when he was signed; that trust, he said, doesn’t vanish just because he reached the open market.
“They have to do what they think is best,” he said. “They have to build a team as best they can to win a championship. I trust them with that.”