Before the Bears’ new decision-makers showed some confidence in quarterback Jay Cutler this week, they expressed some in his backup, signing Jimmy Clausen to a one-year extension before free agency opened.
That’s because John Fox likes what he’s seen from Clausen, whom he drafted in the second round in 2010 when he coached the Carolina Panthers.
“Well, I think I’ve seen maturity and growth,” the new Bears coach said. “I had him as a rookie. This league’s tough as a rookie, I don’t care what position and quarterback probably being more tough.
“So I’ve seen a guy that’s matured. I watched his one start [and] a lot of preseason snaps that he was involved in, and I’ve seen him grow as a quarterback.”
Clausen, a former star at Notre Dame, went 1-9 in 10 starts for the Panthers in 2010, which was Fox’s last season with Carolina.
Clausen’s next start wouldn’t come until last season after former coach Marc Trestman benched Cutler in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions. Clausen completed 23 of 39 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a 20-14 loss.
Clausen also endured a jarring hit from defensive end Ziggy Ansah, which resulted in a concussion and a missed opportunity to play in Week 17.
Either way, Clausen’s once-dead career, which included surgery on his throwing shoulder in September 2013, was revived under Trestman. And Fox and general manager Ryan Pace have benefited, signing Clausen to a one-year, $1,125,000 contract, which includes a $262,500 signing bonus.
Pace and Fox called Cutler their starter on Wednesday, but Fox insisted the depth chart is just a starting point.
“We haven’t been on the grass one snap yet,” Fox said.
So Clausen, who was recently married, will get his chances to impress.
“He’ll get that opportunity,” Fox said. “Obviously, he was a guy that we felt good enough about re-signing, and I’m excited to watch his growth moving forward.”