Josh McCown, the affable backup quarterback who excelled with Jay Cutler injured in 2013, retired Monday, two weeks shy of his 40th birthday.
McCown won three-of-five starts as Cutler’s backup in 2013, keeping the Bears on track for a playoff spot they’d eventually lose on the final game of the season. He threw 13 touchdowns and only one interception that year, finishing with a Bears-record 109.0 passer rating. The Bears gave Cutler a record-setting contract extension at the end of the season.
He started two games for the Bears in 2011, too, winning one. The Bears valued his presence in the quarterbacks’ room; Cutler considered him a friend.
His performance under Marc Trestman landed McCown a two-year, $10 million deal with Lovie Smith’s Buccaneers in 2014. He was cut after one year and 11 starts. McCown started 19 games over the next two years for the Browns, and 16 over the following two for the Jets.
McCown made his announcement in The Player’s Tribune, saying he planned on continuing his work for ESPN.
“At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner,” McCown told the web site. “I hope I did that. And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”
A third-round pick for the Cardinals in 2002, McCown also appeared in regular-season games for the Lions, Raiders and Panthers. He suited up for 10 total NFL teams.