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Bears Finally Sign McNown

After missing the first 10 days of training camp, Cade McNown didn't want to waste any more time.

The Chicago Bears' quarterback of the future headed for training camp at at Platteville, Wis., on Monday after signing a contract that could be worth $22 million over five years.

"I'm fired up to get to Platteville and get started on trying to make an impact this year," he said at a news conference at the team's practice facility. "Once I get up there, I'm just going to have to jump in wherever they are and just spend some time in the film room and with the coaches just kind of getting to where I need to be."

McNown, the 12th overall pick in the draft out of UCLA, signed a seven-year, $15 million deal that includes a $6.1 million signing bonus. But McNown can void the last two years of the deal if he meets performance-based incentives, such as taking 35 percent of the snaps as a rookie or 45 percent of the snaps in his second or third year.

He also can make an additional $7 million if he meets other performance-based incentives, agent Tom Condon said. Those "escalator clauses" take the place of the "buyback" that's usually included in voidable year deals, Condon said. In most voidable year deals, teams "buy back" the remaining years of the long-term contract.

"It's an exciting place for Cade," Condon said. "There was never a time when we didn't think this thing would get done, or whether it was going to turn into any kind of an acrimonious situation. At the same time, it's complicated it was uncharted waters, and we're happy that it's over with and both sides got what they needed out of the contract."

The Bears have made it plain since drafting McNown that he's their quarterback of the future. But they appeared to give him additional leverage in the contract negotiations when they cut veteran Erik Kramer two days before camp started.

Chicago does have four other quarterbacks in camp Shane Matthews, Jim Miller, Moses Moreno and Doug Nussmeier but they have four NFL starts among them.

"I don't know. That's a decision for the coaches to make, but my job is to be as ready as possible to allow them to make a good decision," McNown said when asked if he could start in the Bears' first game, Sept. 12 against Kansas City.

"There are no expectations," he added. "From all indications, they just want me to be able to step in and play, whatever that means."

The Bears are installing a new, more wide open offense this season, and McNown has gotten some exposure to it at the team's minicamps. He's also been studying his play book and working out with a trainer, but he said there's no comparison to being at camp.

"Whether we started camp a month ago or we started it today, I need all the preparation I can possibly get," he said. "It doesn't matter whether it's one week or two weeks away, so the more th better. With that, I just want to tell you how excited I am to finally get up to camp and get started."

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