By Chris Emma–
(CBS) His may not be the sexy name, but quarterback Mike Glennon does make sense for the Bears.
Glennon — who has agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $45 million, with $18.5 million guaranteed, according to reports — brings the Bears a serviceable stopgap, offering Chicago a chance to contend in 2017 and a bridge to the long-term answer at quarterback.
Don’t misinterpret Glennon’s place and the bigger picture. There are many factors in play.
The Bears entered this offseason with one certainty at quarterback — they were ready to part ways with Jay Cutler and explore a new future at the position. General manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox had seen enough of the Cutler movie, and the decision to release him Thursday comes at the heels of pressure to win.
After two disappointing seasons — including a brutal 3-13 mark in 2016 — Pace and Fox must put the Bears in playoff contention.
Thus comes the decision to sign the 27-year-old Glennon, a move that has raised many eyebrows. Glennon hasn’t started since 2014, and he has 30 touchdowns to 15 interceptions in his 18 career starts. There’s potential for growth, but Glennon likely doesn’t have a higher ceiling than what he’s shown to this point.
So, what does this mean for the Bears?
Glennon would be tasked with simply putting the Bears in position to win — protect the football, hand it off 25 times to Jordan Howard and play complementary football. By trusting a rookie to save Fox’s job, the Bears would be asking a lot.
They also like how Glennon can perform behind a strong offensive line, one which features Kyle Long, Cody Whitehair and Josh Sitton manning the interior and potential upgrades coming at tackle. Glennon’s offensive line in Tampa ranked 26th in pass blocked back in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus rankings. He’s a pocket passer who never had a sound pocket.
Glennon has shown he can manage a game, and though his record as a starter is 5-13, that mark came with porous Tampa Bay teams. The Bears have ample cap room and high draft picks to further bolster their roster.
More importantly, the Bears can build for the future while Glennon serves as that bridge. They can identify that developmental prospect, whether it comes with the third pick or in third round. Glennon offers the team a chance to take its time with a young quarterback.
I would suggest looking to the third pick and securing a future at quarterback, allowing him to be comfortable while developing. However, there are game-changing defensive players only available in the first round, and viable quarterback options will fall deep into the first round and maybe to Chicago’s 36th overall pick.
The key to Glennon’s deal is the $18.5 million guaranteed, which ranks 25th among NFL quarterbacks. They can part ways with ease after a season or hold him beyond 2017 if so desired. It’s a team-friendly contract.
By signing Glennon, the Bears can gun for playoff contention with a steady veteran leading the offense while letting the quarterback of the future adjust to the NFL game. They wouldn’t be risking the future by fighting for the present, and he’s the best available option to do so.
Don’t overthink this. Glennon is just another piece to a larger plan.