Warner in Bears crosshairs

The Bears have already completed one unofficial trade this off-season when Chris Villarrial signed with Buffalo and Ruben Brown ended up with Chicago after being released by the Bills. Another such swap could be in the works.

Chris Chandler signed with St. Louis after being cut by the Bears last month and that acquisition all but ended Kurt Warner's tenure with the Rams. Warner was told on Monday that he would be released after June 1st.

St. Louis is trying to clear cap space in an attempt to sign Marc Bulger to a long-term extension and cutting Warner will save the Rams $4.85 million against this year's salary cap. Warner was due just under $19 over the final three years of the deal.

At this point the Rams have given Warner permission to speak with other clubs, but that's limited to those seeking a trade. While it appears the Bears have interest in the former two-time league MVP, they would not be willing to part with a draft choice for his services.

Rex Grossman is entrenched as the starter in Chicago, but adding Warner is something the team might consider. Grossman and current backup Jonathan Quinn have combined for 6 NFL starts.

There is a good chance that the 32-year-old's best days are behind him, as his only start came in the season opener where he fumbled six times against the Giants. He hasn't won a game since the 2001 NFC Title game. Still Warner knows the offense Terry Shea has installed and has run it a high level.

With the draft three away there aren't a lot of teams in search of a starting quarterback, so Warner, who almost signed with the Bears in 1997, will likely have to settle for small money in a supporting role.

Lovie Smith spent three seasons on the same team as Warner and is as familiar with the good and bad he would bring to Chicago. The biggest issue in any acquisition could be the budget. The Bears have about $1 million in cap space left after signing three starters in free agency and trading for another.

The Bears plan on selecting a quarterback on the second day of the draft and the standard practice is carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. With Grossman and Quinn already in the mix and a third quarterback likely to be added it would be tough for Warner to sign with a team that he would not be assured of at least a backup job.


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