The Chicago Bears quarterback situation heading into the 2017 season might just be the most interesting in the entire league. The Jay Cutler era is officially over. In comes Mike Glennon from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, of course, there was the NFL Draft day 1 surprise as the Bears traded up from the #3 spot to #2 to take Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. But what does this mean for the franchise? Is Mike Glennon the true #1 quarterback in Chicago as we head toward the start of training camp? Will we even see Trubisky on the field in 2017?
What we know.
I wrote a reactionary piece to the Trubisky pick following day 1 of the draft. At the time, Bears general manager Ryan Pace said there would be no QB competition in 2017. As of right now there doesn’t appear to be one. As recently as a few weeks ago, Trubisky spoke out about being happy to take on the #2 role behind Glennon. Heading into training camp, I think we can safely say Glennon is QB1.
At the time of this writing, there are two major factors to consider here when talking about Trubisky and Glennon. First of all Trubisky has yet to sign his rookie contract. This doesn’t appear to be concerning the Bears organization at this point, and to his credit Trubisky has been a full participant in the Bears’ offseason program so far. Trubisky himself trusts a deal will get done in time for training camp which starts July 26. However, if a deal isn’t reached when training camp begins and it drags into the preseason, it will become an unwanted distraction and could ultimately affect Trubisky’s development.
The other factor is Glennon’s contract and how this affects his role not just in 2017, but beyond. Per Spotrac.com Glennon’s contract is for $45M over three years. However it is essentially a one-year deal as his dead cap hit plummets from $18.5M to $4.5M after 2017 , which drops even further to $1M in year three. Could the Bears cut Glennon loose after only one year? Quite possibly, but only if Trubisky is ready to become the franchise QB they drafted him to be.
What could happen?
As I mentioned already, it is fairly clear at this point that Glennon is QB1, the question that is often asked is for how long? At this point nobody knows, especially since Trubisky has yet to sign a rookie contract. If he doesn’t by the time training camp starts, then he won’t be allowed to participate in camp at all, something that will favor Glennon heading into preseason.
By the time you’re reading this, a deal for Trubisky could well be done and dusted, at which point all eyes will point to Bourbonnais, IL where the Bears hold training camp. Does Trubisky unseat Glennon as QB1 by the time Week 1 rolls around, assuming his rookie deal gets done? I highly doubt it.
Glennon has some experience in the NFL and showed flashes during his time in Tampa, however, he is 5-13 as a starter which hardly inspires confidence that the Bears can come out of a very difficult start to the season (first 4 games are against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Green Bay, ouch). How patient will the Bears be if the season is falling away quickly from them? On the other side of the coin, would they really want to throw Trubisky into the fire while the team is struggling to get their season on track? I hope not. But, there will be pressure from the fans, as well as head coach John Fox’s job potentially being on the line if Chicago makes the wrong decision.
What should happen?
If the Bears are truly invested in Trubisky as the future, then patience is key. Let the 2017 Bears be directed by Mike Glennon, regardless of record after 4 games, 8 games, 12 games…. you get the point. Come 2018 Trubisky will likely be ready to be the guy the Bears expect him to be. Start to build around him through the 2018 NFL Draft and free agency. They should already have a plan to do this. Continue to strengthen the offensive line, especially at the tackle position. Give him some weapons – particularly in the passing game – and have an offensive scheme in place to take advantage of his strengths and limit his weaknesses.
Of course this all changes if – and I know this sounds crazy – the Bears go 10-6 or better with Glennon, but let’s be realistic here and say that that is very unlikely to happen.
The Bears have never had a truly great QB in their storied history. Although they do have one in the Hall of Fame in Sid Luckman. The NFL, of course, has changed into the ‘’QB league’’ we know today and it’s rare for a team to even get to a Super Bowl without an elite QB, something the Bears realize and are now pinning their hopes, and future, on Mitchell Trubisky.
Can the Bears get it right? Three to four years from now will we be watching a QB in Chicago who is considered a top 5 or even top 10 QB in the NFL? If the right decisions are made then the chances improve, but ultimately it’s on Trubisky’s shoulders.
Just, not yet.