(670 The Score) Six years ago as an undrafted rookie entering the NFL, quarterback PJ Walker realized how he could last in the league.
During his three years with the Colts, Walker watched carefully how backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett handled himself while working behind entrenched starter Andrew Luck. Brissett recognized the importance of his role as it related to the entire team, and Walker came to understand that too.
That all came to a head when Luck abruptly retired from football during the 2019 preseason and Brissett was suddenly thrust into the Colts’ starting quarterback role. Brissett is now entering his eighth NFL season after signing with the Commanders.
“Just seeing how things worked in the building, seeing how he was as a leader towards the team, how people gravitated towards him even though he was in a backup role,” Walker said. “It just showed me how to also be a leader towards these guys around me even though I’m in a backup role.”
The 28-year-old Walker signed a two-year deal with the Bears last week to become their backup quarterback behind Justin Fields, Chicago’s developing hope at the most important position in the game.
The Bears added Walker to be ready as their backup and to also help foster Fields' growth in his third NFL season.
“I was highly impressed with the ability he has,” Walker said of Fields. “And I watched him in college. I’ve watched him. I’ve always been excited for him and a fan of his.”
During his three years in Indianapolis, Walker never stepped onto the field for a game. He was released 11 times and re-signed by the Colts, which is the life of a reserve depth piece in the NFL.
Walker got his break during a brief stint in the XFL before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He completed a 65% of his passes for a league-best 1,338 yards and 15 touchdowns over five games for the Houston Roughnecks before the season was canceled. Five days after that shutdown was announced, Walker’s former college coach Matt Rhule signed him to the Panthers.
Walker played in 15 games and started seven over three seasons in Carolina, always staying ready to step in when called upon.
“A guy that really got the opportunity last year and did some good things,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said of Walker. “Fits what we’re trying to do, so we’re pumped about him.”
The Bears released veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian last week, which was a sign of their faith in Walker as their backup. It’s still possible Poles could pursue a developmental quarterback prospect in the NFL Draft in April, but Walker is entrenched at No. 2 on the depth chart at this time.
With a firm foundation beneath him, Walker knows what he can bring to the Bears in his role. It’s what led him to sign with Chicago.
“Just the opportunity,” Walker said. “Me coming here, just getting an opportunity to compete for the backup job is going to be great. Just come in here to try to help the guys in the quarterback room as much as possible.
“Try to be a leader of men, just continue to grow as a player and get the guys around me to grow as well.”
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.
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