What the Bears are getting in new QB PJ Walker

The Chicago Bears are signing former Carolina Panthers quarterback PJ Walker to a two-year deal.

Moore, a former XFL quarterback, has spent the last four years with the Panthers. Walker’s biggest role came last season, where he completed 63-of-106 passes for 731 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in six games with five starts. Not only is he the perfect backup for starter Justin Fields, but he also has experience with Chicago’s new wideout DJ Moore.

We spoke to Anthony Rizzuti of Panthers Wire, who gave us the rundown on what we can expect from the Bears’ new backup quarterback and why he could be a good fit for Chicago.

What kind of player are the Bears getting in PJ Walker?

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Anthony Rizzuti: PJ is a player’s player. While he won’t be in Chicago to lead the Bears, he’s a guy who’ll be able to win over the respect and trust of his peers rather quickly.

He did exactly that in Carolina, even with his fairly limited chances under center. From Steve Wilks to Shaq Thompson to Brian Burns and Baker Mayfield—whom actually fell behind Walker on the depth chart—you couldn’t find a Panther who wasn’t thrilled and supportive of Walker getting his string of starting opportunities this past season.

What’s Walker’s biggest strength(s)?

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AR: Walker may be a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, but there’s nothing small about his arm talent.

That became evident during his sparkling stint with the Houston Roughnecks in 2020, when he lit the XFL up for five eye-opening, highlight-filled games. He also provided us with the best throw of the entire 2022 season, when he connected with (and this should put a smile on your face) wide receiver DJ Moore for a bomb of a 62-yard Hail Mary toss.

Where does Walker need to improve?

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AR: While there’s certainly a “wow factor” to his game, Walker is a high-variance player. His highs are high and his lows and low—and there have been many more lows than highs throughout his NFL career.
Walker tries to do too much with too little—sometimes forcing balls into nearly non-existent windows and running himself ragged around the pocket into sacks. Perhaps it’s a curse of confidence that comes with the rocket launcher on his right shoulder, but he’s—too often—a big play waiting to happen . . . for opposing defenses.

What impact did Walker have during his time with the Panthers?

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AR: Although you just read a borderline lambasting of his wild style, Walker was actually somewhat of a stable presence under center for Carolina when they needed it in 2022. With Mayfield and Sam Darnold healing from their respective ankle injuries, the third-year veteran did an admirable job of keeping the Panthers from completely imploding in the middle of the season.
He didn’t bust up the box score, only attempting 100 passes for 671 yards and three touchdowns over five starts, but he didn’t completely sink the team—leading them to a pair (which should’ve been a trio) of wins in that run. That stretch showed, in what could be a good sign for Chicago, that he can be serviceable in a pinch if kept on a leash.

Why do you think Walker could be a good fit for the Bears?

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AR: There are a few parallels between Fields and Walker. Although the latter doesn’t have the rushing chops (who does?), athleticism and creativity of the former, he can improvise and make some jaw-dropping throws. Plus, the fact that Chicago rolls with a run-heavy offense would bode well for that whole “kept on a leash” thing.

Oh, and the aforementioned connection with Moore certainly won’t hurt.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire