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Chicago Bears trade for Seattle QB Rick Mirer

February 19, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ Finally, Rick Mirer is on his way to Chicago.

After four months of trade talks and more than a week of speculation, the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday night dealt their former quarterback of the future to the Bears for a first-round draft choice.

``We believe Rick has the qualities to be an outstanding player and help us get to the next level,″ Bears coach Dave Wannstedt said in a statement.

Mirer couldn’t get the Seahawks to the next level.

After passing for 41 touchdowns at Notre Dame, he was the second overall pick in the 1993 draft. He had a promising rookie season, starting all 16 games and completing 274 of 486 passes for 2,833 yards. But he never realized his potential and spent much of 1996 as John Friesz’s backup.

Mirer signed a three-year contract with the Bears, who gave up the 11th overall pick in the April 19 draft. Seahawks spokesman Steve Wright said Seattle completed the deal by giving a fourth-round choice to Chicago.

The Bears tried and failed to get Mirer before last October’s trading deadline. They refocused their attention on Mirer last week, with media outlets reporting daily that the deal was almost done.

Seattle gave the Bears exclusive rights to talk to Mirer, who turns 27 next month. San Francisco also was interested in him.

Bears spokesman Bryan Harlan said Mirer and the team had 48 hours to negotiate a possible fourth contract season. The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune reported today that the deal Mirer agreed to was for $11.4 million for three years, including a signing bonus worth more than $2.5 million. Mirer had one year left in his contract with Seattle and was under a $2.5 million salary cap.

Mirer, who was expected to be in Chicago for a news conference today, said the last several weeks of negotiations took a toll on him as he worried about alienating his new teammates and fans.

``To be honest, this really bothered me,″ Mirer said. ``I never wanted it to look like it was about money because it wasn’t.

``It was a career decision and I wanted the timing to work out. I want to finish there. I want this to be my last move and I wanted the numbers to make sure that happens,″ Mirer said.

Now that the deal is done, Mirer said he’s looking forward to playing for the Bears.

``I’m very optimistic,″ said Mirer, who grew up in Goshen, Ind., about a two-hour drive from Chicago. ``I’m very excited about going to a great city where there are great fans, and playing outdoors is important to me. These are the things you kind of look forward to.″

The 6-foot-2 Mirer was 2-7 as a starter last season. He passed for 1,546 yards, with five touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and his quarterback rating of 56.6 was the lowest in the AFC by almost 12 points. He missed five games because of a knee injury.

Despite his struggles, he figures to start for the Bears, who were 7-9 last season. Erik Kramer, who set numerous team records in 1995, but was sidelined with a neck injury for almost all last season, is unsigned and might not return. Dave Krieg was the Bears’ quarterback for most of 1996, but is 38 years old.

Friesz, who was playing well until breaking his right leg last season, signed a two-year contract extension with the Seahawks and should be their starter in 1997.

Once Mirer was benched, the Seahawks tried to trade him to Atlanta for Jeff George. But George balked at going to Seattle, was eventually released by the Falcons and signed this week with Oakland. In October, the Bears and Philadelphia Eagles each offered a second-round draft choice for Mirer, but the Seahawks declined to make a deal.

After considering Mirer, New England selected Drew Bledsoe with the top pick in the 1993 draft. Bledsoe quarterbacked the Patriots to last month’s Super Bowl.