When the music stopped Wednesday, the Chicago Bears were left with the type of quarterback you more typically find available the day before Thanksgiving. Veteran Josh McCown, whom the Bears signed moments after missing out on Kyle Orton, hasn't been on an NFL roster in two years but did spend one season with Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz when they were both with the Detroit Lions in 2006.
Orton's availability would have been a rare and perfectly timed gift following Jay Cutler's thumb injury, and the Bears were eager to acquire him. Alas, they were not the only ones and were, in fact, one of three teams to submit a claim, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Kansas City Chiefs also placed a claim and were awarded his contract based on the NFL's waiver priority system.
Bears coach Lovie Smith made a point Wednesday to reinforce his confidence in new starter Caleb Hanie. According to Hanie, Smith told him, that "Whatever veteran quarterback we bring in, you don't need to worry about it. You're our guy."
But if Hanie had been sidelined or if he bombed as Cutler's short-term replacement, Orton would have provided a more proven alternative than rookie No. 3 quarterback Nathan Enderle. I'm not sure if we can definitively say the same thing about McCown, but in any event the Bears needed a healthy third arm on their roster.
Onward and upward …
Note: For those wondering, the Detroit Lions did not place a claim on Orton in hopes of blocking his arrival in Chicago. According to Schefter, Orton was claimed by the Bears and Dallas Cowboys, along with the Chiefs. It's possible the Cowboys were engaged in some gamesmanship there, but in the end it wasn't necessary. The Chiefs had an absolute need at the position.