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Hoge: Cutler's Future Replacement Is Not In This Year's Draft

By Adam Hoge-

HALAS HALL (CBS) — If you're expecting the Bears to draft a quarterback to back up Jay Cutler and eventually replace him as the starter in a few years, keep dreaming.

General manager Phil Emery on Thursday reiterated his support for Jordan Palmer as the Bears' backup quarterback and shot down the idea of "developing" a late-round quarterback into a future starter.

"Absolutely," Emery said when asked if he was comfortable with Palmer as the backup. "And I told him that the other day — the same thing I told Josh (McCown): 'Glad you're here, looking forward to your contributions, and we're counting on you.'"

All signs point to the Bears hoping Palmer can follow a similar path that McCown did a year ago in Marc Trestman's offense. Most doubted McCown's ability going into training camp, but he ended up playing at a high level while starting six games and eventually received a two-year, $10 million contract from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Palmer, meanwhile, has a head start, having spent the second half of the season as Trestman's third-string quarterback a year ago.

"Jordan, since the time that he came last year has been nothing but a positive," Emery said. "He has been a backup in the league, obviously in Cincinnati, so he knows what the weight of that position is and how to carry himself and how to contribute positively to the team in that role. And to get himself ready to go every week in case there was an injury. So yes, comfortable with him (as the backup)."

Some feel that Emery should draft a quarterback later in the draft to be the backup now, with the idea that he could be groomed as Cutler's eventual replacement. But the Bears' GM presented some compelling evidence that such an idea is a pipe dream.

"That developmental theory doesn't hold a whole lot of water," Emery said.

The GM went back and studied every quarterback class since 2006 — which was Cutler's class — and found that there wasn't a single quarterback drafted after the third round who has developed into a long-term starter. He said most of the time, you're drafting third-string quarterbacks later in the draft "and most of them have been wiped out of the league."

"Most of the starters in this league come from the first and second round," Emery said. "So that's where you need to take a quarterback. So when you talk about (drafting a) quarterback every year, they have to be somebody that you truly believe will beat out the second and third quarterback that you perceive on your roster. And if not, history shows that you shouldn't make that pick."

Emery acknowledged an exception: the 2012 draft that saw Russell Wilson drafted in the third round, but he called that "a blip on the radar that's unusual — highly unusual."

Also, don't expect Emery to surprise everyone by drafting a quarterback in the first round — it's the only position he ruled out with the 14th overall pick.

It's always possible the Bears will find a quarterback later in the draft who they feel can beat out Jordan Palmer as the backup, but they have plenty of other needs to address and seem pretty content with the veteran quarterback in the role.

Meanwhile, one thing seems pretty certain: Cutler's future replacement is not sitting in the later rounds of this year's NFL Draft.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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