I wonder if there was a moment during Matt Nagy’s job interview with Bears general manager Ryan Pace when he stopped the proceedings and said: “I’ll get back to your question on my offensive philosophy in a second, Ryan, but there’s something that’s really bothering me. Mike Glennon? You gave $18.5 million in guaranteed money to Mike Glennon? Tell me there were extenuating circumstances. Tell me that you had been drugged and kidnapped, and that the hostage taker with such outlandish demands was the quarterback’s mom.’’
Pace said Wednesday that the Bears will waive Glennon, who is the biggest mistake to date in the GM’s tenure with the team. Many of you are rejoicing at his departure, mostly because he was bad from the moment he stepped foot in Bourbonnais for training camp last season. I liked having him around as a physical reminder that Pace couldn’t answer every harsh question with “Mitch Trubisky,’’ as if that were a shield that deflected all criticism of past crimes. Trubisky’s potential couldn’t erase the terrible decision to make Glennon rich.
Once Glennon is gone, Pace, as punishment, should have to swirl a “G’ into his heavily gelled hair. Sort of a maximum-hold scarlet letter.
I would have been willing to cut Pace some slack Wednesday, but then he told media members that the Bears’ large cap space (reportedly $80 million) doesn’t give the team license to be “reckless.’’ I almost fell out of my chair.
Reckless was giving Glennon all that big money, despite the quarterback having a resume thin enough for nose blowing.
Reckless was being as wrong as Pace has been on so many free-agent signings.
Reckless? Are you kidding me? After three years of bad football under Pace, it would be reckless if the Bears didn’t throw money at players who can give the fan base reason for hope that goes beyond Trubisky’s upside. To put the young quarterback in the best position to succeed, they need to give him teammates who are A) good at football and B) able to stay healthy. That has turned out to be as difficult as astrophysics for the Bears.
This is not about free agency being risky, as Pace is trying to frame it. It’s about Pace not being good at free agency so far. Here’s the answer, Ryan: Start being good at it.
The Bears need quality receivers, among other needs. Pace’s first big decision as general manager was wide receiver Kevin White, who hasn’t been able to remain in one piece since the Bears chose him seventh overall in the 2015 draft. White’s injury difficulties aren’t due to Pace, but they are emblematic of the struggles Pace has had since replacing Phil Emery.
Now is the time to spend some of that $80 million in cap space – not recklessly, but enthusiastically. The amount is the third highest in the NFL. That’s a competitive advantage. Use it. Does that mean Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins? Panthers guard Andrew Norwell? How about both and a lot more? After what Chicago has been through with this team, the general manager shouldn’t be talking about caution. The franchise is on its third coach in six years. It hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010. It has had 10 losses or more for four straight seasons.
The Bears will save $9 million in cap space by waiving Glennon, and Pace can take comfort in the financial prudence of releasing him if he wants. But let’s not forget the decision to sign the former Tampa Bay quarterback in the first place. If that were an isolated incident or if there were more hits than misses by Pace, we’d all be moving on. But he has been poor at free agency, which should give every Bears fan pause as he prepares to spend money — frugally, of course. Glennon, Markus Wheaton, Marcus Cooper, Antrel Rolle and Eddie Royal are just a few of his whiffs.
Akiem Hicks was a home-run find. What stands out most about that is that Hicks stands alone in Pace’s history of home-run finds.
The NFL Combine is upon us, the 2018 season beckons and hope is gassed up and ready to go from zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds. Some of that has to do with Bears fans always being hopeful, and some of it has to do with Trubisky.
Everything the Bears are doing is Trubisky related. They hired Nagy, an offensive coordinator, with Trubisky in mind. They gave Pace a new contract when they signed Nagy because they believe in Pace’s beatific vision of Trubisky. They’re letting Pace build a team around Trubisky because they’ve gone all in on the kid.
But they have to spend their money well and generously. That’s what Pace should have told reporters Wednesday. Warning against “reckless’’ spending sounds par for the course for a conservative franchise. Enthusing about limitless opportunity would have been much better.
Here are two offsetting prayer requests for you: Pray that the Bears spend money, and pray that there are no Mike Glennon-like sightings at Halas Hall in the coming weeks. Amen.