McCown is a quarterback with a 71.2 career passer rating. He has been cut twice and traded twice in his NFL career, and his last regular professional paycheck from a pro team before his joining the Bears was from the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League.
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But having McCown as your No. 2 is not the same as having the Titanic as your cruise ship.
After all, many other teams are in the same boat with similar backups.
In general, there are two types of backup quarterbacks in the NFL: Those who have failed, and those who have yet to fail.
The Bears would have preferred one from the latter category, but they didn't have enough draft picks to select one as a harbinger of hope. That was too bad.
But that is a separate issue from having McCown as their veteran backup.
Even if the Bears had drafted a quarterback, he might not have been a threat to McCown because they still probably would have wanted a veteran. But it would have given them an option on game day.
Only 26 teams have backups who have started NFL games and could be primary backups this year.
Of those 26 players, 23 do not have a winning record as a starter. Only five have a career passer rating of 80 or better.
Their cumulative passer rating of 74.8 is just a little better than McCown's as is their cumulative completion percentage of .583 to McCown's. 580.
There are two examples in the last 21 years of backup quarterbacks who got their team Super Bowl rings. Trent Dilfer rode the coattails of one of the greatest defenses in history with the 2000 Ravens. Then there was the fresh-faced Tom Brady in 2001, who came off the bench for the Patriots on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats.
As quarterback play has become more important, the notion of a backup superhero has become increasingly quaint.
There are more desirable ones than McCown, certainly. But not many.
Last year, they went 3-11 in games they started. They had a combined passer rating of 76.6.
Even the best backups are backups for a reason.
Still, if you can get one of the best, it's worth paying more. Otherwise, there isn't much difference between McCown and the others.