DENVER – “Plan B” behind Peyton Manning — for now, at least — begins with “C” after the Broncos agreed to terms with ex-Bears and Colorado State quarterback Caleb Hanie on Saturday.
ESPNChicago first reported the deal, which is for two years.
At 26 years of age and with only four career starts, Hanie still offers some upside, but his results of the last 15 months offer contrasting evidence for what he could become.
If the Broncos get the Hanie that surprised the Packers in the 2010 NFC Championship Game and nearly led the Bears to a win over the eventual world champions, they could be in decent shape if Manning is injured. Hanie completed 13 of his 20 passes for 153 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which came on a fourth-and-5 with 37 seconds remaining as he tried to lead the Bears to a game-tying touchdown.
If they get the Hanie who started four games for the Bears last year, they’ll get a quarterback who struggled, borne out by a 3-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a 41.8 quarterback rating and an 0-4 record in which the Bears offense accounted for just 10.0 points per game — including an average of 6.3 in his last three starts.
His most efficient game individually last year was in Chicago’s 13-10 overtime loss to the Broncos, when he completed 63.2 percent of his 19 passes for 115 yards and didn’t throw an interception, giving him a 79.9 quarterback rating. Had running back Marion Barber III not stepped out of bounds inside the final two minutes of regulation, Hanie’s effort would have been enough for a win.
The Broncos likely are not done at quarterback. John Fox has said that he prefers to go into training camp with four quarterbacks; Hanie, Manning and 2011 practice-squad passer Adam Weber leave the Broncos with one vacancy. It would come as no surprise if that opening is filled at next month’s draft.