Monday, December 5, 2011
Source: Brett Favre would talk to Bears
By Michael C. Wright
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears' dire situation at quarterback hasn't pointed the club in the direction of future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, but a source familiar with the quarterback said Favre would listen if the Bears made a pitch.
The Bears haven't contacted the 42-year-old Favre, who has spent a good portion of his recent days hunting, and it's highly doubtful the team is interested. Even if the sides eventually touch base, it's unclear whether the Bears could lure Favre out of retirement. The source said Favre would listen, but his answer could be that he'll stay retired. The source also said Favre has been working out and staying in shape.
A call to Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was not immediately returned, but coach Lovie Smith dismissed the idea on Monday of adding a new quarterback.
"That's our group," Smith said of the three quarterbacks on the Bears' roster. "We're going to make improvements with our group. We're not looking on the outside. We won't have a quarterback tryout or anything like that."
The Bears remain hopeful Jay Cutler will return before the end of the regular season after undergoing surgery on his fractured right thumb, but Cutler said Thursday that he'll be smart about his return and may miss the rest of the season.
Speculation regarding a possible quarterback search comes in the aftermath of Chicago's 10-3 loss Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs. In addition to completing less than 50 percent of his passes for a passer rating of 23.8, current Bears starter Caleb Hanie threw three interceptions and has thrown six picks in his last two outings -- both losses -- coming off the club's five-game winning streak with Cutler behind center.
Given that options are limited behind Hanie, it's believed the team is exploring the possibility of bringing in former Minnesota Vikings quarterback and Chicago native Donovan McNabb, according to a report by CSNChicago.com.
Receiver Devin Hester said on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio that it would be a waste of time to bring in a new quarterback at this point.
The Bears signed Josh McCown on Nov. 23 to be the primary backup to Hanie. But McCown -- who has struggled in two weeks of practices, according to sources -- was among the team's inactives against the Chiefs.
Rookie Nathan Enderle is the club's only other option. A fifth-round pick out of Idaho, Enderle has been inactive for nine games, and hasn't yet thrown a pass in a regular-season contest.
The Grade 2 MCL sprain suffered Sunday by running back Matt Forte on Sunday also puts pressure on the quarterback position. The early prognosis for Forte to return is two to six weeks, multiple sources said.
Hanie's teammates, meanwhile, continue to voice support.
"As of right now, we actually believe in Caleb," said nickel corner Corey Graham. "We've seen him do a lot of great things in practice and things of that nature. So we believe in what he can do. Yeah, it's been a rough couple of games for him. But I'm pretty sure he can bounce back, and I'm pretty sure he can be O.K. for us."
Added receiver Roy Williams: "He's going to have to learn some more. We didn't help him as an offensive group, [but] we'll just try and get better next week."
Initial speculation about a Favre return to the league came when Houston recently conducted searches for quarterbacks after injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. According to the source familiar with Favre, the Texans never made contact; nor did the Chiefs, who eventually claimed former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton off waivers to back up current starter Tyler Palko after a season-ending injury to Matt Cassel.
In addition to weighing how much Favre has remaining in the tank, the club also would have to consider how much he could realistically contribute with what would be little prep time, in addition to the circus atmosphere such an addition would create, which is why there's likely little to no interest from the club.
The Bears received a little help from other teams -- Detroit lost to New Orleans, the New York Giants lost to Green Bay and Atlanta fell at Houston -- over the weekend to maintain their fifth seed in the hunt for an NFC wild-card berth.
Still, the team is surely pondering how long its luck can last, and whether Hanie will sufficiently improve his game over the last four weeks with Cutler out to keep the Bears in contention.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.