Bears sign QB Jimmy Clausen

Updated: June 7, 2014, 5:05 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPN.com

Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery made good on his plan to continue to ramp up the mix for the backup quarterback spot on Thursday, signing former Carolina Panthers second-round pick and Notre Dame standout Jimmy Clausen.

Terms of the contract weren't released by the team, but the move doesn't come as a surprise.

Though Emery and Bears coach Marc Trestman expressed confidence in current No. 2 quarterback Jordan Palmer, earlier in the offseason the GM mentioned the team planned to bring in veteran signal-callers "looking for opportunities" for evaluations throughout the offseason.

The Bears also drafted San Jose State's David Fales in the sixth round as a developmental prospect.

As it stands now, Chicago's roster at the quarterback position includes Jay Cutler, Clausen, Fales, Palmer and Jerrod Johnson. While Palmer is the clear frontrunner for the primary No. 2 job behind Cutler, the staff has said there will be competition for the position.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsWith Jimmy Clausen's signing, Chicago's roster at quarterback now includes Clausen, Jay Cutler, David Fales, Jordan Palmer and Jerrod Johnson.

Clausen put together a strong workout, personal interview and an X's and O's session on the board for the team Thursday at Halas Hall.

The Bears said they believe Clausen is finally healthy after surgery, and they like his experience, football smarts and mechanics, as well as his mental toughness after having dealt with injuries, and the lack of success as a rookie, not to mention Carolina's drafting of Cam Newton.

At 26, Clausen is still a young quarterback with starting experience, and despite the surgery, he still throws an accurate ball with a tight spiral. The club plans to carry a minimum of five quarterbacks through the end of veteran minicamp, which wraps up June 19.

In a corresponding roster move, the Bears waived linebacker Lawrence Wilson.

Clausen announced the move on Twitter after quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson revealed the signing earlier in the day:

Interestingly, Trestman helped to prepare Clausen for the 2010 draft, according to the coach's website.

As a rookie in Carolina, Clausen started 10 games, throwing for three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 outings. The Panthers finished that season 2-14, and ownership fired former coach John Fox, with the team using the 2011 No. 1 pick to select Newton.

Clausen's original rookie contract with the Panthers expired in March. He spent all of 2013 on Carolina's injured reserve after suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder during the final game of the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Panthers waived Clausen after the preseason, but he went unclaimed, which is why he ended up on the team's injured reserve.

Clausen underwent surgery that September, and told USA Today back in April that he simply seeks another chance to play in the NFL.

"The only thing I can ask for is an opportunity, a legit opportunity to compete to be a No. 2 and hopefully work my way up," Clausen told USA Today.

In prepping for his next shot in the NFL, Clausen, 26, reportedly worked out four times a week with Clarkson, and the quarterback apparently has sufficiently regained enough of his arm strength to pique Chicago's interest.

Clausen told USA Today he believes "right now is the healthiest I've been since my junior year in college."

As a junior, Clausen suffered a right foot injury and underwent surgery prior to the draft, and later had surgery on the same foot following his rookie season in Carolina.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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