McCown fits profile for NFL backup QB

And there is a benefit to having McCown as the backup. He is taking up $580,000 of cap space. Last year, the player in his spot, Campbell, took up $3.5 million.

With the cap space gained at backup quarterback, the Bears were able to buy two veterans who could be starters.

Many Bears fans were happy to see Campbell go. But the Bears weren't. They wanted him back. He preferred to sign with the Browns, with whom he has a better chance of playing.

As a rule, the best and most sought after veteran backups aren't going to be interested in playing behind Jay Cutler because what they want more than money is opportunity. They are going to migrate to teams like the Browns, where the starter could be on a short leash.

So the issue really is this — what do you hope for in a veteran backup if you can't have Earl Morrall?

You hope for a player who can make routine plays, has enough wisdom to avoid losing the game and has enough perspective to enhance a locker room.

Hello, Josh McCown.

Matt Cavanaugh, the Bears quarterbacks coach, understands the dynamic perhaps better than anyone. In addition to coaching quarterbacks for 20 years, he began 12 of his 13 NFL seasons as a backup quarterback, serving as an understudy to Joe Montana, Randall Cunningham and Phil Simms, among others.

He thinks McCown is perfectly qualified for his job.

"You want a guy who is smart, will make good decisions, understands what the game is all about and still has the tools to make plays," Cavanaugh said. "He has that. There isn't a lot of wear and tear on the body. He's physically strong. He still has good leg movement. He has been very efficient throwing for us in the offseason.

"That's all you can ask. I'm happy to have him. … I'll be shocked if he doesn't perform well."

McCown might perform well. He might not.

After all, he is a backup — like those on most teams.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei

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