By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) Not long into free agency back in March, the Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon to three-year deal that practically speaking was a one-year contract.
Given the structure of the contract, it was clear the Bears planned on selecting a quarterback in the draft in April. We just didn’t know who and when. Glennon was set to be the quarterback while the rookie learned the NFL game, and that’s sound reasoning for planning the development of a young quarterback.
Those around the league insist Bears general manager Ryan Pace had strong feelings about the talent and future of Glennon when he signed him. Knowing that answers the question as to why the Bears chose to sign Glennon. The question now is, was it the right decision? This is certainly hindsight now, but that’s the perspective we operate from when a signing doesn’t go as well as expected.
After the 2016 ended, it soon became clear the Bears weren’t going to retain Jay Cutler. There were other veteran quarterbacks on the roster as well. Brian Hoyer played well last season before he broke his arm. He was followed by Matt Barkley, who was inconsistent at his best.
While Hoyer didn’t win games, his numbers were excellent. He completed 134 of 200 passes for 1,445 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, most importantly. While Hoyer doesn’t possess a great arm, he reads the field well, is a good decision-maker and gets the ball out of his hands quickly. The Bears could move the ball, score and not turn the ball over when he was under center.
The Bears have struggled mightily with their passing game this year, as Glennon isn’t a quick processor, has a problem keeping plays alive with his feet, has a slow release and can’t get the ball downfield.
When you look at Glennon’s tape with Tampa Bay, you really saw the same tendencies. What the Bears had hoped for was that while he didn’t get playing time in 2015 or 2016, his game had improved with practice reps he and the experience of being in the league longer. We now know they were wrong.
Glennon is owed $16 million in this 2017 season, with a salary cap hit of $14 million. Had the Bears chose to keep Hoyer instead, we’d have seen better quarterback play at a considerable savings for the team. Hoyer signed a two-year deal with the 49ers with a cash payout of $7.5 million in 2017, with a cap hit of $5.275 million. That’s considerably less for a player with more talent and production. It could also be argued that Hoyer may have been a better mentor to rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Pace had an affinity for Glennon. I understand that, but he guessed wrong. There isn’t a talent evaluator in the NFL who hasn’t been wrong on some players. When you look at all the decisions Pace has made during both the draft and free agency, he has done a wonderful job. Fans will be quick to point out that 2015 first-round pick Kevin White has done nothing, but that’s because of injuries, not talent. Injuries are an unfortunate hazard of the game.
Now that we know Glennon was a mistake, why’s he still playing? I understand the plan, but who gives the Bears the better chance to win in 2017, Glennon or Trubisky? I understand that preseason games don’t come close to presenting the challenge of a regular-season contest, but Trubisky clearly outplayed Glennon in the preseason. I can’t find one advantage that Glennon has over Trubisky other than experience.
Is it better for a rookie quarterback to sit and learn? Yes, in most cases. But then when you look at how rookie quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz played in 2016, we can argue that the time if right for the Bears to turn to Trubisky.
They’ll be better off for it.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.