The Bears announced Wednesday that they signed Lamar Jackson.
No, not THAT Lamar Jackson. Not the 2019 MVP quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. That Lamar Jackson is under contract with the Ravens for one more season.
No, the Bears signed 23-year-old defensive back Lamar Jackson, who grew up in California, played college ball at Nebraska and spent most of last season on the New York Jets’ practice squad. The Bears signed him to a futures contract Wednesday.
Jackson becomes the 12th player to sign a futures contract with the Bears. Eleven others did so last week.
Futures contracts can be given to any player who was not on a 53-man roster at the end of Week 18. They are typically at or around league minimum pay and don’t take effect until the new league year begins in March.
This Lamar Jackson went undrafted out of Nebraska in 2020. He signed with the Jets in 2020 and began the season on the practice squad but wound up appearing in 13 games and starting six in 2020. He spent most of 2021 on the practice squad, making an appearance in one game.
The relatively minor transaction did not go unnoticed, however, given Jackson’s name. Former NFL executive Bill Polian, who is helping the Bears with their general manager and head coaching searches, once suggested Lamar Jackson the quarterback would be better suited as a wide receiver.
Working as an analyst for ESPN in the lead-up to the 2018 draft, Polian said he would advise whichever team drafted Jackson “don’t wait to make that change” to receiver. He said Jackson was “clearly not the thrower” that the other quarterbacks in the 2018 class were.
The Ravens drafted Jackson 32nd overall. He was the fifth quarterback drafted behind Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen.
More than a year later, in the midst of Jackson’s MVP season, Polian admitted he was wrong in his pre-draft assessment. Even so, Polian left Jackson off his All-Pro ballot that year.
There’s a little bit of irony behind the Bears, who are listening to Polian’s advice right now, signing a player named Lamar Jackson to play a position other than quarterback.