General manager Jerry Angelo couldn't have been more adamant at his season-ending press conference that the Bears simply must get the quarterback position right, although his actions so far in the offseason tell a much different story.
Free agency doesn't open up in the NFL until Feb. 27, but Angelo already added a new signal caller to the roster when he signed former Northwestern star and Arlington Heights native Brett Basanez to a two-year contract Tuesday. While Basanez owns several passing records for the Wildcats and even got a Player-of-the-Year nod from Sports Illustrated as a senior, he wasn't drafted in 2006 and never distinguished himself in three seasons with the Carolina organization.
In order to get a better grasp on what Basanez brings to the table and whether or not he can be a legitimate option to challenge incumbent Kyle Orton for the starting job, Bear Report called on Panthers expert Brad Thomas for a top-to-bottom scouting report on the 6-2, 210-pounder.
According to Thomas, Basanez is a mobile and smart player that spends a great deal of time in the film room trying to get better. However, he has very little experience on the field in game situations.
Thomas Says: Basanez was a rookie free agent pickup that reminded folks a lot of vet Jake Delhomme. He's got the leadership intangibles that teams look for in a QB. Had it not been for a broken wrist, it would have been Basanez and not over-the-hill Vinny Testaverde that took over for an injured and ineffective David Carr during the 2007 season. Carolina is high on Josh McCown for his experience and Matt Moore for his potential, so there wasn't any room left for another project quarterback on the Panthers' roster.
JC's Take: Bears fans were hoping for a much bigger splash in free agency under center, be it a Byron Leftwich or a Jeff Garcia, so the Basanez signing is little to be excited about at this point of the offseason.
I was under the impression that the front office liked what they saw from Caleb Hanie this past summer, so the need for another youngster to compete with him for No. 3 duties doesn't make much sense. On the other hand, I would be very surprised to hear that Chicago believes Hanie is far enough along to be the primary backup, let alone actually challenge Orton for the top spot. But the Bears usually take four passers to training camp in Bourbonnais, so it's reasonable to expect another addition since Rex Grossman will be a distant memory before long.
If I had to guess, I'd say Basanez is little more than a training-camp arm and a public-relations move to lure in more Northwestern alumni to the fan base.
Insider Analysis: QB Brett Basanez
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