The QB Debate Continues

Indianapolis - While the Bears are unlikely to go out and make a major splash in free agency by signing a starting quarterback, finding a veteran backup has once again become an off-season topic for the franchise.

Despite losing their starting quarterback in the preseason to a broken ankle and eventually turning to a rookie to lead the offense, the Bears were able to win 11 games en route to a NFC North title. General manager Jerry Angelo knows that is unlikely to happen in most cases and would like to give the team insurance incase there is an injury or ineffective play at quarterback.

"We've got to get that quarterback position stabilized," Angelo said. "If we don't get that stabilized, that's very hard to play around that."

When talking with the Chicago media on Thursday, Angelo didn't say anything most already realized. The interesting part of the conversation is that Angelo was the first to bring up the quarterback position.

The Bears still feel Rex Grossman is their top option to lead the offense, but considering he's only made 7 regular season starts in three years his resume is incomplete.

"Stay healthy. He needs to do it for a period of time," Angelo said of what Grossman needs to show in order to relieve the angst of the position. "I like Rex. Obviously we wouldn't have done what we did (when we drafted him), but he's got to stay healthy."

Kyle Orton surprised most by winning 10 games as a fourth round pick. Although he didn't put up great numbers, he limited his mistakes behind a conservative game plan setup not to force him to make plays. While a spot on the roster is secure, Orton needs to prove something in his second year.

"Orton's got to take another step," Angelo said. "He needs to take the experience that he gained as a rookie and take another step. There are areas of his game that he has to improve in before I feel really comfortable with him."

Grossman and Orton are the only two quarterbacks currently under contract for next year. Angelo said there is a chance the Bears could go into next season with the same three signal callers that ended the 2005 season, which includes unrestricted free agent Jeff Blake. Still adding a new arm to the mix seems more likely.

San Diego Chargers QB Drew Brees is expected to be the top veteran on the market, but will be out of the Bears price range. The ideal candidate would be someone that could start if need be, but is willing to accept backup money.

"Certainly, money always determines what your convictions are about the guy," Angelo said.

Angelo went as far as to say he's considering carrying four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. However, Angelo is having a hard time convincing coach Lovie Smith that is the right course of action.

"Rex is definitely our No. 1 quarterback," Smith said. "Rex is an excellent player. This should be the last time I have to answer (the question). It's not going to change, guys, anytime on this. Yes. You can look at what I've said all along. Every day Rex Grossman has been able to play, he's been our starting quarterback. And we love him being there."


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