By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — First impressions of Mike Glennon revealed a young quarterback wise beyond his years and experience. Upon arrival at Halas Hall on Friday, it was easy to see why he has been so regarded as a person with each passing stop.
Glennon’s traits as a leader were clear to Bears general manager Ryan Pace when he asked for phone numbers of teammates and headshots of employees at Halas Hall — not just the support staff, but everyone from the cafeteria workers to janitors.
He means this genuinely.
“As the quarterback of the team,” Glennon said, “you should know the people’s names and have the relationships and be able to talk with them.”
There will be no controversy in Chicago — “Mike Glennon’s our starting quarterback, and we’re fired up about that,” Pace said with much greater enthusiasm than when Lovie Smith used to utter those words.
Then came the questions for a Bears quarterback about the ghosts of the past and the challenges he faces. Glennon got the treatment of a franchise quarterback in his first day at Halas Hall, but he faces a harsh reality.
For all the headlines and the fanfare that greeted Glennon’s arrival, his departure from Chicago could come so soon. Glennon’s three-year deal worth up to $45 million will pay $16 million in 2017 and has only $18.5 million guaranteed, according to reports. Pace confirmed that the Bears will be looking for a developmental quarterback in the draft as well.
Should Glennon struggle in-season, he’ll have a rookie breathing down his neck. If he doesn’t produce in 2017 — and the Bears are expecting victories — he’ll be a free agent again next March.
“That’s the business of the NFL,” Glennon said. “If you’re not performing, then you’re not going to be around. That’s every position, that’s every player in the league and it’s no different for me. I have full confidence I’ll be here for a long time, and we’ll win a lot of football games.”
When Glennon entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Bucs in 2013, he was considered a young quarterback with tools and upside. He beat out Josh Freeman for the starting job as a rookie, then lost his position to Josh McCown a season later. Jameis Winston entered the fold as the No. 1 pick in 2015, and Glennon’s opportunity was gone.
Glennon has played just two games the last two seasons. He’s now 27 and is married with a 7-month-old son, Brady, who coincidentally shares a name and birthday with the Patriots’ quarterback.
Upside may still be in that 6-foot-7 frame of Glennon’s, something the Bears still see. Glennon believes in what he can become.
“I feel like I’m a much better player,” he said. “I’ve grown physically, I’ve grown mentally. I’m more confident in my abilities. I’ve seen more NFL defenses. I’ve been part of way more NFL meetings and overall I feel like I’m a much smarter player. I feel I’ve always thrown the ball well and over the last few years I’ve worked on some things that have made me a better passer that I will show this fall.”
Added Pace: “He’s intelligent, he can quickly process, he can see the field, he’s accurate, he gets the ball out quick, so there’s a lot of traits about him that I like.”
Glennon joined coach John Fox and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone for a late dinner Thursday, convening at a local Irish pub not too far from his hotel along the north shore.
Fans flocked to the table to welcome the new quarterback. Glennon got a glimpse of life in the spotlight as the leader of the Bears. He remarked that Chicago felt every bit the opposite of Tampa in terms of weather, but the climate for a quarterback is vastly different, too.
Pressure was waiting for Glennon at the door upon arrival at Halas Hall. He not only bears the weight of expectations to bring Chicago victories, but his future in the NFL is riding on this opportunity.
Glennon made a great first impression. Now he must make a lasting one.