Jimmy Clausen has won the competition to be Jay Cutler’s backup quarterback.
The Bears released Jordan Palmer on Sunday, handing the reins of the No. 2 role to Clausen, the former second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers.
The Bears parted ways with 12 players, getting their roster down to 78.
Most notably, the Bears waived running back Michael Ford and terminated the contracts of vested veterans Nate Collins and Adrian Wilson.
The Bears also released return man Darius Reynaud and linebacker Jordan Senn.
Palmer completed 21-of-30 passes for 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception in three preseason games, good for a passer rating of 88.9. The offense did have two delay-of-game penalties when Palmer was with the second team in Seattle.
Clausen has completed 24-of-37 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating this preseason is 94.4.
“Coach Trest didn’t want players to make predictions about this year. As a former Bear, I can say that I believe this is a [Super Bowl] team [with] an MVP QB,” Palmer wrote on his Twitter.
“I’ll be wearing Bears gear and supporting the Bears for the rest of my life,” he added. “Regardless of what happens. This is the best [organization] in the NFL."
Palmer, 30, joined the Bears last preseason and played well in the finale. He re-signed with the team in the season after Cutler’s injury, and then again this past offseason. He seemed primed to be the No. 2 quarterback before the Bears signed Clausen during minicamp.
The competition in Bourbonnais allowed Palmer to have the first shot, but although the stats were close in the preseason, Clausen was the better passer, with a stronger arm and more upside. Palmer knew the offense and had the respect of the locker room, but Clausen has gotten a grasp of the offense now, too.
Rookie David Fales remains a possibility to make the team as a No. 3 quarterback, or join the practice squad, if the Bears choose to risk subjecting him to waivers. For Thursday’s preseason finale in Cleveland, expect Fales to take a majority of the snaps.
Ford was expected to be in the running for the No. 2 running back position during the offseason, but he quickly fell down the depth chart in training camp. He did not play a snap in Friday’s preseason loss in Seattle and had five carries for 15 yards in the previous two games.
The Bears gave Ford a chance on two kickoff returns, which he returned for a total of 49 yards. Clearly the team feels comfortable with running backs Shaun Draughn and Ka’Deem Carey, and has enough on special teams to replace Ford, who appeared in 12 games on special teams last season, when he was an undrafted rookie.
Collins had a great 2013 preseason and was coming on strong when he replaced Henry Melton, but tore his ACL. He re-signed, and the Bears had high hopes for him, but with rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in the fold, Collins had not done enough to crack the second team. He played only six snaps against the Seahawks and did not record a tackle in three preseason games.
Wilson had a chance to compete for a starting spot at safety, but the five-time Pro Bowler rarely got reps with the first team. At 34 and coming off a foot injury last preseason, Wilson could not return to his Pro Bowl form.