Bears face decision with Caleb Hanie

Updated: February 2, 2011, 7:12 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

DALLAS -- Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo praised the play of backup quarterback Caleb Hanie the day after the NFC Championship Game.

With starter Jay Cutler injured on the sideline and No. 2 QB Todd Collins struggling, Hanie came in late in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers and nearly led the Bears to victory before falling 21-14.

"He showed poise," Angelo said. "You want to look for that at the quarterback position. We know he's got talent. He was thrown into the fire. I thought he did a good job, and it was good to see. The only way you really evaluate a quarterback is to see him in the line of fire. So his stock went up in our eyes, at least in mine anyhow."

The question now becomes whether Hanie, a restricted free agent, has a future in the Bears' organization.

"It's tough to tell because you never know what the organization is going to do," Hanie said Wednesday at the Super Bowl media center in Dallas. "I would have never thought two years ago they would have traded Kyle Orton and two first-rounders for Jay Cutler. That surprised me more than anything. So you never really know what they're going to do.

"I get a good sense they like me, and to hear Jerry say that is nice to hear. Jerry has always been good to me, especially coming out of college. So I hope I get interest from a lot of teams because I want to progress my career as much as anybody and become a starter. I just got to figure out where the best opportunity is for me to do that."

Since the Bears can match any offer sheet placed on restricted free agents, the odds of Hanie leaving the Bears in the offseason are slim. But that doesn't mean Hanie isn't keeping close tabs on potential quarterback battles throughout the league.

"I look at all the openings. There are a lot of teams out there that need quarterbacks," Hanie said. "There are a lot of veterans guys at the end of their careers in certain places. Those are all the factors you have to take into consideration when making a decision. Like seeing Tennessee, that job might be open, the San Francisco job [looks headed for] a competition. You definitely look at all that, but I like Chicago and would love to be the quarterback for the Bears someday.

"Will it be next year? No. Jay is the guy there. But if it means I have to stay around here for another year because the Bears put a high tender on you or something like that, that would be great, too."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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