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Professional

Free agency a tough go for Pace this past season

Swing & miss on Glennon

Chicago Bears quarterback Mike Glennon (8) fumbles under pressure from Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) in the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mike Glennon (8) fumbles under pressure from Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) in the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Bears’ signing of quarterback Mike Glennon last March will go down as a massive miscalculation by the organization.

Glennon will cash in $18.5 million in guaranteed money for playing in just four regular-season games before his turnover-riddled play prompted the Bears to turn toward rookie Mitch Trubisky.

But when general manager Ryan Pace addressed the Bears media corps Monday for the first time since Glennon flopped – 3 months later – he downplayed the debacle, pointing instead to the opportunity it provided for Trubisky.

“With the quarterback position, I have no regrets in us being aggressive in attacking that position – it’s that important,” Pace said in his postseason news conference following the firing of coach John Fox. “We all felt confident in Mike, and sometimes in our business, things don’t work out. There’s a lot of factors involved.”

The Bears drafted Trubisky No. 2 overall just a month and a half after signing Glennon. Pace asserted right away that Glennon would be the starter, providing a bridge as Trubisky learned behind the scenes in his first season in the NFL.

That lasted through a Sept. 28 loss to the Packers, in which Glennon threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. He committed eight turnovers – five interceptions – while throwing four touchdown
passes as the Bears went 1-3 with him at the helm.

Trubisky started the final 12 games, and Glennon didn’t take another snap.

“Fortunately for us, being aggressive at that position, in essence we took two swings,” Pace said. “Not just Mike, but the progress of Mitch and how well he played. We felt he was ready to take on the challenge, he did, and I think he’ll benefit from that.”

Pace claimed greater fault later in the news conference when asked about learning from his free-agent misses overall. Last year was a particularly rough one for Pace in that regard. Among his biggest signings next to Glennon were cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, tight end Dion Sims, and safety Quintin Demps.

Amukamara and Sims at least started most of the year. Wheaton battled finger and groin injuries and then never got on the same page with Trubisky, totaling three catches for 51 yards this season. Cooper started four games and then played most of the rest of the year behind Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. Demps suffered a fractured left forearm Sept. 24 and didn’t play again.

When asked about Pace’s financial backing in free agency, Bears President Ted Phillips said that at least of the players who didn’t work out, “the contracts that were signed did not hamstring us past this season.” Pace also pointed to the structure of such contracts, of which Glennon will be the costliest.

“Free agency is high risk, and we understand that,” Pace said. “With free agency, you have to be very disciplined during that time period, and we have been in regards to how we’ve structured a lot of these contracts. That’s helped.

“But as we continue to build more through the draft, we can continue to be a little more selective in free agency. There have been some hits. We talk about [Danny] Trevathan and [Akiem] Hicks [from previous seasons]. And there have been some misses too. That’s on me. We need to get better in that area, and we will get better in that area.”

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