By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Long before his first phone calls came, Mike Glennon was well prepared for free agency.
He planned ahead to the impending decision, studying up on quarterback-needy teams as potential landing spots. Glennon watched every detail of the prospective teams’ offenses, readying himself for what was next.
Glennon, 27, wanted to find himself in the best possibility for long-term success. After a bumpy road in Tampa that included losing his starting job twice, he needed a soft landing spot to revive his career. The film showed that place would be Chicago.
Knowing well what was coming for Jay Cutler and the Bears, he prepared for that possibility. Sure enough, Bears general manager Ryan Pace came calling. Glennon was already sold.
“When I watched the Bears’ film, I saw a great offensive line, I saw a great running game and I saw playmakers on the outside,” Glennon said the day he officially signed. “I saw a system that I felt fit my skill set. When I saw that, I thought if that was a place I would open up at the quarterback position, that was a place where I wanted to go.
“Then I started doing more research and started talking to players that were either here or have played here. Nothing but great things to say about the organization, Ryan (Pace), the coaches. Really, this was a team that I thought about over these last few months. I’m just excited that it all worked out the way that I had hoped and envisioned.”
Glennon became one of the first moves of this free agency period, which has finally winded down. He was the Bears’ top target at quarterback, a veteran and student of the game who could offer them a chance to contend in 2017 as opposed to trial by fire while developing a young quarterback.
The Bears signed Glennon to a three-year, $45-million deal, of which $18.5 million is guaranteed. That contract essentially means the team could part ways with Glennon after a season if it feels ready for the future at quarterback or stands unsatisfied with his play.
During his time in Tampa, Glennon threw for 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while completing 59.4 percent of his passes in 21 games (18 starts). Pace looked past the misfortunes with the Buccaneers and instead relied upon his scouting convictions that started to be formed when Glennon was still at North Carolina State.
Glennon entered Halas Hall well aware of the difficult situation he faces, one that brings great pressure to perform. Otherwise, he will be a free agent against next year. But all eyes were looking to 2017 when the new quarterback arrived in Lake Forest.
“I wanted ultimately a team that could win,” Glennon said. “I feel like we can do that here. A team that I felt was a lot better than the record showed last year. Having played against the Bears, having scouted against them, I felt it was a better team than it showed.”
Since signing Glennon, the Bears have added even further offensively. He entered alongside new receiver Markus Wheaton and tight end Dion Sims. Receiver Kendall Wright should pose as another featured target for Glennon, and running back Benny Cunningham adds a receiving target out of the backfield. Veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez also joined the mix Friday.
The Bears have a different look on offense after releasing Cutler and losing top receiver Alshon Jeffery in free agency to the Eagles. Cam Meredith is the top incumbent receiver, and the hope is Kevin White can be productive in 2017. The offense is relying on running back Jordan Howard, who set the Bears’ rookie rushing record last season.
Pace is counting on Glennon as the glue to hold everything together. Glennon started by collecting the cell numbers of every member of the offense and getting to know them since.
“He has a natural leadership style to him,” Pace said. “He’s been that way. He was that was at NC State. He’s that way now.
“That’s just kind of his style, and it’s very natural for him. He’s very charismatic. I think players are going to respond very positively to that.”
Meanwhile, the Bears have been busy doing their scouting work on the draft class of quarterbacks. They brought a major presence which included Pace and coach John Fox for Deshaun Watson’s pro day at Clemson, and they sent multiple scouts to see North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. Even after signing Glennon and Sanchez and re-signing Connor Shaw, the plans for the future remain unchanged.
Glennon, who lost his job to 2015 top pick Jameis Winston in Tampa, said he isn’t looking at quarterbacks in this draft class. Pace left no doubt that Glennon would be the Bears’ starting quarterback. Now, Glennon must deliver on his opportunity.
“I’m in charge and I’m excited for that opportunity that I really haven’t had before,” Glennon said. “But it’s something that I’ve worked for and really looked forward to, just ever since I got in the league. Finally, I have that opportunity.”