Mike Glennon hasn’t started an NFL game since 2014, but he’ll get paid starter money in 2017 and beyond. The former Buccaneer backup officially signed a three-year deal worth an average of $14.5 million per season to be the Bears’ quarterback of the short-term future on Thursday.
The team is still expected to target a quarterback in the draft. That means Glennon’s time in Chicago could be shorter than his three-year deal.
The lanky quarterback has only thrown 11 passes over his past two seasons, but that didn’t stop him from getting paid. Glennon went just 5-13 as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback in 2013 and 2014, bad enough to convince the franchise to draft Heisman winner Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. With Winston living up to expectations, Glennon has been a potential-filled backup for a rising Buccaneers team.
Pinning Tampa’s 2013-14 struggles on the young quarterback is unfair. While Glennon struggled with his accuracy in his first two seasons as a pro, he also posted a solid touchdown-to-interception rate (29:15) and his 83.6 rating would put him on par with 2016 passers like Joe Flacco and Trevor Siemian.
He also has a dynamic NCAA career to serve as evidence he can thrive in the right situation. Glennon was a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft after throwing for more than 7,000 yards and 62 touchdowns in his final two seasons at North Carolina State. While the 6’7 passer doesn’t add much on the ground — he tallied -280 rush yards in college — his strong arm should be a boon for a Chicago team that’s dealt with inconsistent play behind center in recent years.
The Bears started a lazy Susan of undesirable passers last fall, rotating between an injured Jay Cutler, an injured Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley. Hoyer, the best of the bunch, managed just a 1-4 record behind center as the team’s quarterbacks combined for an 81.8 rating — a mark that ranked just 25th in the league. Signing Glennon turns the page on that platoon and the 3-13 season it produced.
The biggest question now is who Glennon’s targets will be. While he has a dynamite young running back to help take the pressure off the passing game in Jordan Howard, his receiving corps is much less promising. Chicago risks losing Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery to free agency; behind him, Cameron Meredith and Kevin White offer promising, but untested, options downfield.
Glennon just set a new standard for quarterback salaries after netting a $43.5 million deal, despite not starting a game in two years. While that’s great news for the 27-year-old passer, it will also put the pressure of reviving a franchise squarely on his shoulders. The former Buccaneer is getting paid to be the Bears’ savior — but a look at his past performances suggest those expectations may be a bit out of line.