Quarterback Jim McMahon's days with the Chicago Bears appear to be numbered, and they nearly came to an end Sunday during the NFL draft.

Reports were circulating that the Bears would trade McMahon to the San Diego Chargers, but the deal never came off.Shortly before the draft began, McMahon was interviewed by television commentator Johnny Morris, a former Bear player.

"I'll be excited to go," McMahon told Morris. "I have one year to go on my contract, and I would have liked to stay and play it out."

Asked what if the deal doesn't go through, McMahon told Morris, "If it doesn't happen, you can get rid of this tape."

Bear Coach Mike Ditka and personnel boss Bill Tobin skirted the possibility of McMahon being considered in a trade.

"I didn't hear it," said Ditka. "Call McMahon's agent. Call San Diego. The Bears had nothing to do with it (the rumor)."

Steve Zucker, McMahon's agent, refused to discuss the matter.

Later, on a radio show, Zucker said Ditka did not tell the truth and that the Bears had planted the rumor.

Asked directly, Tobin said, "I only deal in facts not rumors. Yes, we talked to San Diego but we talked to a lot of teams. We talked to 20 teams. We talked to Green Bay, we talked to Minnesota. Our phones are still ringing."

The rumor was that McMahon would go to the Chargers for their first-round pick, No. 8 overall in the draft.

When San Diego's turn came up, the Chargers selected Pittsburgh defensive end Burt Grossman, a player the Bears reportedly wanted.

McMahon, 29, has been with the Bears for eight years but has been injured practically every year, although he guided them to the Super Bowl championship in 1985 season. Even then, he missed three straight games with a shoulder injury.

He was their No. 1 pick in the 1982 draft and has been the starting quarterback since the middle of the 1983 season when he has not been hurt.

Through the years he has had shoulder, back, kidney and hamstring injuries.

McMahon started the first nine games last season and directed the Bears to a 7-2 record before suffering a knee injury. He did not return to action until the playoffs.

During McMahon's recuperation, Mike Tomczak took over and directed the Bears to four straight triumphs before he, too, was injured and gave way to Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh started in a 23-3 loss to the Rams and came back the following week to lead the Bears to a 13-12 victory over Detroit to clinched their fifth divisional title.

In the past, the Bears have always gone to camp with McMahon listed as the No. 1 quarterback. However, Ditka has indicated that the No. 1 job will be wide open this year.