Multiple reports indicate free agent quarterback Mike Glennon is likely headed to Chicago Bears, but the widely expected move could end up being a departure from the Bears' disciplined strategy in free agency.
Glennon, 27, may have the highest ceiling of all of the available veteran quarterbacks -- minus Tyrod Taylor, who is currently awaiting his fate in Buffalo -- but the 6-foot-6 quarterback hasn’t started a game the past two seasons.
Signing Glennon requires a certain leap of faith -- especially since the projected asking price could be in the neighborhood of $14-$15 million per year.
That seems like a drastic break from the free agency approach used by general manager Ryan Pace from 2015-16. For the most part, Pace avoided overpaying in free agency, opting instead for more modest contracts. Sure, the Bears experienced setbacks (Pernell McPhee, Eddie Royal, Antrel Rolle, etc.), but none of those transactions set the franchise back.
The Bears enter Tuesday’s legal tampering period with one of the NFL’s best salary-cap situations. But that doesn’t mean the Bears need to spend foolishly. After all, Chicago is rebuilding, and that process takes time. Saving John Fox’s job beyond 2017 is of no consequence. The Bears have to think long term about quarterback. That’s the only way to truly fix the position.
Make no mistake about it, Pace likes Glennon. A lot of people around the league like Glennon.
But it would be wise to limit the guaranteed money to 2017 -- if possible. The Bears don’t want to have another Brock Osweiler situation on their hands. Osweiler, who fell out of favor last year in Houston, signed for $37 million guaranteed and is set to earn a fully guaranteed base salary of $16 million this season.
Translation: Osweiler isn’t going anywhere.
Paying Glennon $14-$15 million for one year is perfectly acceptable, just as long as the contract allows the Bears to move on with little damage in 2018. The Bears still intend to draft a quarterback, and in a perfect NFL world, that quarterback -- or the one they draft the following year in 2018 (the Bears have to draft multiple quarterbacks to get this thing right) -- may be ready to take over on a permanent basis. The last thing Chicago wants is for Glennon to be a roadblock to that development.
And what if a new coach is hired in 2018 (a perfectly plausible scenario) and wants no part of Glennon? Are you going to force a new coach to inherit a quarterback he doesn’t want? The Bears have been down that road before, and how did that work out?
The idea of re-signing Brian Hoyer is appealing on some levels because he is a bridge quarterback, plain and simple. Glennon will not be paid like a bridge quarterback. Maybe Pace is spot-on with his evaluation, and Glennon is a budding star. There is comfort in knowing -- as ESPN’s Adam Caplan confirmed -- that Tampa offered to make Glennon the league’s highest-paid backup.
Glennon seems legitimate, but will he take the Bears where they want to go? If the answer is just maybe, then Chicago ought to proceed with caution. Bidding against yourself in free agency is often a recipe for disaster.