Brett Basanez was so interested in coming back to town he was willing to prove it in his boxers.
One of the questions the Bears asked the former Northwestern standout was if he had a problem playing in the cold weather after spending three seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
“I said if they need to test me I’ll come out there in February and wear nothing but my skivvies out there if they want,” Basanez said. “I don’t care.”
The Bears signed him to a two-year contract on Tuesday, effectively replacing Rex Grossman on the roster. This gives the Bears three quarterbacks as they head toward mandatory veteran minicamp in five weeks. It will run from March 17-19.
The St. Viator graduate was on the Panthers’ practice squad last season. He spent 2007 on injured reserve after suffering a wrist injury in preseason and was on the practice squad and active roster after being an undrafted free agent in 2006. Returning to the area wasn’t the only draw for him, though. He knows the Bears’ situation at the position and liked it enough to cancel a workout he had scheduled today with the New York Giants. He also left an offer from the Panthers on the table.
“Everywhere you go there is going to be competition, the fact that I get to come home and play for the hometown team, there is nothing more you could want than that,” he said. “I know the whole thing with Rex and Kyle [Orton] and now Kyle is the guy, and Jerry [Angelo] goes out and says we need to solve the quarterback. That’s what is going to happen in Chicago. The people are going to be hard on their players and I want a chance to compete to try to be that guy.”
For now, Basanez will compete with Caleb Hanie to be the guy behind Orton. Grossman becomes an unrestricted free agent Feb. 27 and will not return. The Bears could still address the position in free agency or the draft. The bottom line is Basanez has an opportunity to make the team after being the No. 4 with the Panthers last season.