With March free agency fast approaching, Jimmy Clausen interviewed his new bosses —GM Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase — to see where he fit in their plans.
He liked what he heard.
“Obviously, if I didn’t like what they envisioned for me and the offense, I wouldn’t be here right now,” the Bears quarterback said last week. “I like what they have planned for us moving forward, and I’m really excited about this upcoming season.
“I just felt comfortable with them and just wanted to come back.”
Clausen signed a one-year, $1.125 million deal March 6, the day before the start of the league’s legal tampering period. Of course, already he knew Fox — the Panthers’ head coach when Clausen started 10 games as a rookie.
“I’ve seen him develop,” Fox said after the Bears’ three volunteer workout practices last week. “You know I’ve seen him grow, even personally and, you know, that’s what we do. Hopefully as we age we grow up some.
“So I’ve seen him grow as a football player and as a man — and I’m excited to work with him.”
He’ll be the team’s clear-cut No. 2 —behind Jay Cutler and ahead of second-year player David Fales and undrafted rookie Shane Carden, the East Carolina passing leader the Bears signed Sunday.
Clausen knows he will benefit from last year’s experience, in which he threw his first regular season-passes since 2010.
“I hadn’t played in —what was it? —four years,” he said. “Just getting back out there, getting a swing of the game, getting back in the regular season and starting. Wish we could have won the game.”
Clausen started Week 16 —a 20-14 loss to the Lions — and likely would have done it again the following week had he not been concussed on Ziggy Ansah’s helmet-to-helmet hit during the final drive.
He left Soldier Field feeling fine. Clausen’s headache strengthened during dinner with his family, though, and grew more painful as the clock crawled toward midnight. He called the Bears’ trainer.
“Just kept pounding and pounding and pounding,” he said. “It was probably 11:30, 12 o’clock. It was pretty bad and he was like, ‘You need to come down to the hospital and get some tests done.’”
That he contributed after being signed in June — late, by football standards — was a testament to what he called a “great relationship” with coach Marc Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.
“I have a lot of respect for both of them, bringing me in last year,” Clausen said. “It was a tough situation for everyone last year. It was time to move on forward.They moved on with their careers and are getting ready for the season.”