In PJ Walker, the Bears have a new backup QB option behind Justin Fields

The Bears have a new backup quarterback behind starter Justin Fields. On Thursday morning, the team announced that it had agreed to the terms of a two-year deal with PJ Walker, pending a physical examination.

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How it fits: Trevor Siemian, the Bears’ backup last year, remains under contract for 2023, and the Bears have retained three quarterbacks throughout last season. Nathan Peterman was on the practice team before Siemian suffered an oblique injury during pregame warmups against the Jets in Week 12. Siemian required surgery and was placed on injured reserve. Peterman then became Fields’ backup for the rest of the season. He started in Week 17 against the Vikings with Fields hurt.

The Bears valued Siemian and Peterman for their experience with similar offensive plans. The Bears wanted to surround Fields with as many resources as possible when he learned what Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy was installing.

Walker’s experience with new receiver DJ Moore, who was acquired from the Panthers in the blockbuster first-choice deal, could be a major factor. They have been teammates for three seasons.

Consequences 2023: Does Fields need extra help in the Bears quarterbacks room? Or do the Bears want a better, more dynamic option behind Fields in Walker? Or is it both?

That depends on the future for Siemian on a personal level and with the Bears.

Releasing Siemian wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive. According to Spotrac, it would result in a dead-cap hit of just $500,000.


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History: Walker left Temple in 2017 and spent three years with the Colts, mostly on the practice team, before joining the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL. His last two years in Indianapolis coincided with coach Matt Eberflus’ first two as defensive coordinator.

Walker joined the Panthers in 2020 and made five starts last season, completing 59.4 percent of his passes (63-for-106) for 731 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked seven times and finished with a 78.0 passer rating. The Panthers had a 2-3 record in the games Walker started. He was a restricted free agent, but the Panthers did not offer him a contract.

cap update: Deals for five free agents — linebackers TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, right guard Nate Davis, defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker and running back Travis Homer — have squeezed the space of the Bears’ leading salary cap. But they are still able to add more free agents if they see fit – and they probably will, especially in defence. The market may favor the Bears in the second and third waves of free agency this week and next week.

However, the Bears will reserve some cap space for their rookie class and possible expansions for tight end Cole Kmet and receiver Darnell Mooney.


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Outlook: First and foremost, Walker is here to help Fields. That’s the number one job of a backup quarterback. From Josh McCown to Chase Daniel to Siemian, they’ll all tell you. But at 28, Walker is a younger backup option than 31-year-old Siemian. With Walker added, it seems unlikely that a quarterback will be drafted late in Day 3. The Bears can swing at other positions, namely their offensive and defensive lines.

(Photo: Bob Donnan/USA Today)

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