Sometimes in Chicago, there's no quarterback more welcome than the unknown, unproven type. Connor Shaw, who threw a whopping 16 passes in the 2016 preseason while throwing for two touchdowns, became something of a cult hero concerning the Bears after breaking his leg in Chicago's third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. A lost opportunity at making his mark, especially after the Bears suffered a heavy amount of quarterback injuries throughout the entirety of last season.
Some felt, that if Shaw was healthy, he could've stepped in and put some of his ability showcased in the preseason on display. Obviously, that didn't happen. Instead, Shaw spent the majority of the regular season and this past off-season rehabilitating his leg to work his way back to being 100 percent. The only option he had while sidelined.
Of course, the situation became a little awkward when the Bears waived Shaw in late May to make room for Victor Cruz - after he was deemed expendable because of the addition of Mark Sanchez. However, when Sanchez suffered a knee injury in practice during the same day, Chicago called Shaw to bring him back in. A topsy-turvy, emotional day for the now fourth-year player, no doubt.
With the first two Bears quarterback slots locked in by Mitchell Trubisky and Mike Glennon, the quarterback competition at the bottom will begin again for Shaw against the more seasoned veteran in Sanchez.
Experience: Fourth season
Weight: 210 pounds
Contract and Salary Cap
Shaw re-signed with the Bears on a one-year deal in the off-season and should he make the roster, Spotrac has him down for a $465,000 contract. None of Shaw's deal is guaranteed and his cap hit is his exact salary. He does not have a signing bonus.
Reason for improvement in 2017
Even while Shaw only threw 16 passes against bottom-roster competition as a Bear last season, he flashed a lot of ability Chicago would be remiss to pass on should he have signs of growth this year. The 25-year-old has good athleticism and with a marked improvement in reading defenses and passing, he could prove to be a quality third quarterback. Outside of experience, there's nothing more his top counterpart in Sanchez could offer in comparison to Shaw. All Shaw has to do - who at this juncture possesses much more upside - is show that he can competently run the Bears offense better than Sanchez. Yes Sanchez was also brought on for tutelage of Trubisky and Glennon. But, you sometimes throw that to the wayside when another player shows better talent.
Reason for regression in 2017
However, it can't be forgotten that those 16 passes and occasional time in the 2016 preseason were the only real glimpses anyone received of Shaw as a Bear on a game field. Shaw's also probably fully recovered from his leg injury, but that could've taken away from valuable time in polishing up on his footwork and mechanics - an aspect a fourth stringer desperately needs to improve. It's difficult to imagine the Bears keeping four quarterbacks (let alone three, but that seems to be the plan), so Shaw has to really outshine Sanchez to have the Bears value him more. Which, would be a tall task with every circumstance against him considered. Shaw can always be stashed on the practice squad, but then is he really getting that much better?
Final roster odds
As long as Sanchez proves to be fully recovered from his knee injury, I can't see Shaw making the final 53-man roster. Perhaps if he had shown the Bears something more before his disastrous leg injury, they wouldn't have invested in Sanchez's insurance policy. But he didn't and it's very easy to gauge the significant leg up (no pun intended) that the veteran Sanchez has on Shaw. Right now, pencil in Shaw as a practice squad addition.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.