Mike Glennon's Contract With the Chicago Bears Is Brimming With Risk

Mike Glennon is reportedly heading to the Chicago Bears on a three-year deal. Can he live up to the contract?

During free agency, we see extravagent numbers floated around all the time, many of which likely come from agents trying to inflate the value of their clients. Once the dust settles, the player will wind up with a much more logical contract that seems to make perfect sense.

Sometimes, though, those haphazardly-discussed numbers become reality.

Well. All righty, then.

Earlier this week on numberFire, we discussed why Mike Glennon's potential big contract was as bad of an idea as it sounded. Now, the Chicago Bears are actually going through with it.

This changes the discussion around Glennon a little bit as we go from talking about a hypothetical to figuring out what in the heck will all happen from here. To get a grasp on that, let's return to numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) for a bit of help.

NEP is the metric we use to measure the efficiency of both teams and players. For quarterbacks, we'll focus on Passing NEP, which shows the expected points they add or subtract on each drop back throughout the season. When they complete a three-yard pass on 3rd and 2, they'll get a bump in NEP because it picks up a first down. But if they get that same three-yard completion on 3rd and 4 (or throw an incompletion or interception or get sacked), NEP will penalize them for doing so.

Now that Glennon to the Bears seems to be a done deal, what should we expect going forward? Let's try to figure that out.

Playing With Fire

Because we all seemingly have opinions -- positive or negative -- around quarterbacks, let's play a little game of blind resume with NEP. This way, our preconceived notions don't get in the way of what actually happens on the field.

Here, we have four quarterbacks. Success Rate is the percentage of their drop backs that resulted in an increase in expected points. Which one would you want on your team?

Quarterback Drop Backs Passing NEP per Drop Back Success Rate
Player A 222 0.09 52.25%
Player B 298 0.08 47.99%
Player C 1638 0.05 46.89%
Player D 686 -0.02 42.86%

If you're looking for upside, it seems like Players A and B are solid choices. Although it was in a small sample, they had acceptable production.

If you want experience and prodution that's a bit below average, Player C would be your guy. This would seem to be the high-floor choice of the bunch.

Player D is none of that. Player D is Glennon's marks from his four years in the league, and they are not pretty. So who are the rest?

Player C is Jay Cutler, whom the Bears are running out of town in order to sign Glennon. Cutler's contract was big, but his production was clearly above that of Glennon, even in his down years.

Player A is also a person with whom Bears fans are familiar in Matt Barkley. These numbers come from his 2016 season, where -- despite a few too many interceptions -- he really wasn't that bad.

And, Player B is last year's free-agent-darling quarterback, Brock Osweiler, from his 2015 season that landed him his big contract with the Houston Texans. Osweiler was a higher draft pick than Glennon, and his pre-contract sample produced higher efficiency than Glennon. This is the type of risk the Bears are taking.

That makes it appear as if this is a next-level awful decision for the Bears. And it very well may be. But, there are at least some reasons for hope, mostly stemming from the other pieces the Bears have in place.

A Situation Conducive to Success

If Glennon wanted to go to a spot where below-average quarterbacks could succeed, Chicago may have been optimal based on last year.

Among the 39 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs, Brian Hoyer finished eighth in Passing NEP per drop back. Barkley was in 23rd, which also isn't too shabby. We have a large enough sample on Hoyer to know he's not the eighth-best quarterback in the league, which likely means the Bears have some talent at other positions. This is good news for Glennon.

Part of that will take a hit with the likely departure of Alshon Jeffery, but Jeffery was outperformed by Cameron Meredith this past season, and Meredith was among the most successful deep-ball receivers in the league. Meredith is a good piece to have.

On top of that, the Bears have plenty of draft capital they can use to bolster the offense if they so choose. Their 3-13 record landed them the third overall pick, and it means they'll pick high in each round. One of those picks -- as Rapoport mentioned -- will likely go to a quarterback, but they can also use them to invest in an intriguing group of incoming receivers. This is a really solid situation. The big question is whether or not Glennon is good enough to exploit what he's given.

A Major Risk

As we saw with the Texans and Osweiler last year, there is huge risk in paying up for a quarterback with question marks. Glennon has plenty of those, and his past production was awful. This really could blow up in the Bears' face.

If Chicago wanted an experimental quarterback to build around, they could have remained in house and re-signed Barkley. If they wanted experience, re-working Cutler's deal and trying to build that relationship back up may have been the play. Glennon has more experience than Barkley and less baggage than Cutler, but that's about all he brings to the table.

This isn't all to say that it can't work out. As we saw with Hoyer and Barkley last year, the Bears' offense as a whole isn't awful. If Glennon can be competent, he may wind up as a successful signing. But based on the information we have right now, the possibility for an implosion is equally likely.