Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Updated: March 24, 5:33 PM ET
After turning down Cards, Stewart joins Bears
By John Clayton
After letting Jeff Blake take the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback job, Kordell Stewart accepted a two-year deal to take over as the Bears' starting quarterback.
Stewart, released by the Steelers last month, considered making a visit to the Baltimore Ravens, but instead of letting the Bears reopen their search for a new starting quarterback, Stewart took a shorter term deal than had been discussed.
The two-year deal is believed to worth around the same $2.5 million a year that Blake received Wednesday from the Cardinals. It includes a $1.75 million signing bonus and will pay him $3.25 million this year.
Stewart, 30, was scheduled to make $6.3 million with the Steelers, but they released him because Tommy Maddox had taken over last season as the team's starting quarterback. Stewart replaces Jim Miller as the Bears' starting quarterback.
"When you aren't satisfied with the long-term money, you then accept the shorter term contract,'' Stewart's agent, Leigh Steinberg, said.
What appealed to Stewart about the Bears situation more than the Ravens job is that there is less likelihood that Chicago will use its first-round choice on a quarterback. The Ravens might use the 10th pick on a quarterback.
"Kordell had a visit to Baltimore scheduled for Monday, but there is a real chance that they could draft a quarterback with the 10th pick," Steinberg said. "Second, you have Chris Redman sitting there. Having just come from the Tommy Maddox situation, that didn't work for Kordell."
Steinberg's feeling is that if Stewart does well in the first year with the Bears, the team will want to negotiate a long-term deal next season.
Stewart played eight seasons in Pittsburgh and has been to three AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. He was a second-round pick of the Steelers in 1995 who hit the playing field first a little more as a receiver than a quarterback.
He first became a regular starter in 1997. The Cardinals offered him a four-year deal at little more than $12 million, but Stewart wouldn't accept. Hoping at some point to get back to the $5 million to $6 million range annually, Stewart took the shorter term deal with the hope of eventually obtaining the longer term contract.
At 30, Stewart is young enough to get those big numbers again.
John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.