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Hub Arkush: Chicago Bears say goodbye to Cutler, Jeffery; welcome underwhelming names

Glennon, Demps, didn't represent free agency windfall some expected from Bears

Published: Thursday, March 9, 2017 11:11 p.m. CDT
Caption
(David Richard)
FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2014 file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter of an NFL football game in Cleveland. With backups quarterbacks like Glennon, Jimmy Garoppolo, A.J. McCarron and Colt McCoy possibly on the move this offseason, the task for talent evaluators will be figuring out which group best fits each quarterback. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

As NFL free agency opening acts go, Thursday’s was a real “No, they didn’t?”

The Houston Texans’ swap with the Cleveland Browns shipping Brock Osweiler out of town was an NBA salary-dump deal, and I never have seen anything quite like it in the NFL.

The New England Patriots just don’t buy talent the way they rushed to the bank for Stephon Gilmore.

For the second straight season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are on their way to winning the offseason again after snagging defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, safety Barry Church and left tackle Branden Albert. Last year’s remarkable haul made the Jaguars a 3-13 football team. Will they be better this year?

The $25 million-plus the Chargers guaranteed offensive tackle Russell Okung and the like amount Carolina gave OT Matt Kalil are insane.

And did receiver Alshon Jeffery really agree to a single year at $14 million? No, he didn’t, did he? Yep.

With all of that as context, the Bears’ first day of free agency was somewhat predictable, if less than impressive.

Clearly the biggest story of the day was the long expected release of Jay Cutler. What I found most interesting was that it was announced as having come at the quarterback’s request.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe that. Once it became clear the Bears were going to sign Mike Glennon, there was no way they were bringing back Cutler.

The bottom line, however, is it was time for a change for both the team and the QB.

My hope is that a few years down the road, Bears fans will come to understand through the prism of history that Cutler was not the reason for the Bears’ mediocrity since his arrival.

He did, however, fail to perform up to the level of a Super Bowl quarterback, which is what the Bears paid for with two No. 1 draft choices, QB Kyle Orton and a swap of third-rounders, and it just wasn’t going to get better.

Hopefully, Bears fans will understand Glennon isn’t being brought in to be that guy, either.

Historically, backup quarterbacks brought to new clubs to lead them fail, and there is nothing on Glennon’s résumé or on his 18 games worth of tape to suggest he will be the exception.

He is a big man with an excellent pocket presence, cannon for an arm and impressive release.

But he never has completed 60 percent or more of his passes. His career 30-touchdowns-to-15-interceptions ratio is unremarkable, and he is a poor athlete with no movement skills and a sack waiting to happen.

As solid as the Bears are at guard and center, if they see Glennon as anything more than a bridge, it is essential they upgrade the tackle positions.

On the upside, his comp stylistically would be Eli Manning, and better accuracy and ball security can be coached.

The Quintin Demps signing honestly caught me by surprise because with Tony Jefferson, T.J. McDonald, Church and D.J. Swearinger also all available at safety, and all younger and more athletic, it never occurred to me Demps was on the Bears’ radar.

The signing just feels too much like the Antrel Rolle deal.

Former Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton is a really nice get if he can stay healthy.

A healthy Wheaton will be a great fit in the slot between Kevin White and Cameron Meredith and is an instant and huge upgrade to the Bears’ team speed and return game.

At the end of the day, I think the less than ebullient reaction we all are seeing from Bears Nation is mostly because general manager Ryan Pace, possibly unintentionally, had suggested we should expect more than a couple of guys in Glennon and Demps who have spent most of their careers as backups.

But chins up Bears fans, the ceilings on Glennon and Wheaton still are fairly high, and there still are more than three months of free agency to work with and a lot more talent on the board.

It could be worse, we could be looking at the Bears’ moves and saying, “No, they didn’t?”

• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at harkush@profootballweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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