- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears free-agent quarterback Josh McCown told ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” that his representatives have held discussions with four teams in advance of the NFL’s free-agency period which opens at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday.
McCown declined to specifically name the interested parties, but the belief in league circles is that the Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and Houston Texans are the organizations making the strongest push the sign the 34-year old veteran quarterback.
McCown re-emphasized that if he left Chicago, his home for parts of the last three seasons, it would be to pursue a full-time starting quarterback opportunity.
“I’m not going to get in to who I talked to,” McCown said. “There is a window and there is legal tampering but there are some shades on that window so I don’t know out of respect to those teams if we want to get into that right now. We’ve talked to four teams. There have been good discussions. We’ll take those as they come and evaluate those situations.
"To leave Chicago, it will be a situation where I’m looking to compete to start or to start and be able to kind of grow more as a player. The only way as a player that you can do that is on the field. That will definitely be something that we are looking at. So we’ll see. We’ll see what opportunities come and where we are at tomorrow.”
McCown is expected to receive a significant bump in pay from the one-year, $840,000 veteran league minimum salary he received from the Bears last offseason that included a $25,000 signing bonus and $5,600 workout bonus for a total compensation package of $870,600.
That pales in comparison to the kind of money that exchanged hands last week at the quarterback position, when Chad Henne signed a two-year, $8 million ($4.5 million guaranteed) with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Matt Cassel inked a two-year, $10 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings.
McCown, who turns 35 in July, had a career year in 2013 when he completed 149 of 224 pass attempts for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception. McCown, who appeared in eight games last season with five starts, finished the season as the NFL’s third highest-rated quarterback with a 109.0 passer-rating – the highest single-season quarterback rating in franchise history.
McCown set additional Bears all-time records with three straight 300-yard passing games, 36 completions in a single game versus the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 24 and an overall single-season completion percentage of 66.5.
McCown also had the best interception percentage in the NFL last year with one pick in 224 attempts (0.4 percent).
The Bears had an exclusive window to negotiate with McCown since the end of the regular season, but the club appears unwilling to set the market for a 34-year old quarterback after it signed starter Jay Cutler to a contract that contained $54 million in guarantees.
The Bears also agreed to terms on a one-year deal with veteran quarterback Jordan Palmer on Sunday.