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Bears release Jay Cutler
Bears sign Mike Glennon
Jay Cutler is out, and former Buccaneer Mike Glennon is in.

The Chicago Bears have wasted no time in making major roster shake-ups in the 2017 off season. In a long-overdue move, Chicago finally released quarterback Jay Cutler. He was still under contract, so the Bears will suffer a salary cap hit, but it shouldn't hurt their ability to sign players at needed positions.

Bryan Hoyer and Matt Barkley
Hoyer and Barkley will still
be teammates in San Fran.

To replace Cutler, the Bears signed two-year Tampa Bay backup quarterback Mike Glennon to a 3-year contract worth roughly $45 million. It's a high price to pay for an unproven player who's already been benched in his career. Glennon has been praised for his arm strength and intelligence, but he hasn't handled pressure very well and his accuracy is questionable. Pressure will be a problem too, as the Bears have been in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed for quite a few years now. Though at least some of those sacks can probably be attributed to Jay Cutler holding onto the ball too long. But Glennon is young and has plenty of room to develop; whereas, Cutler has been a pretty known quantity for quite some time now.

The Bears also lost backups Bryan Hoyer and Matt Barkley to the 49ers, leaving Connor Shaw (who was injured last preseason) as the only current backup going into the NFL Draft in April.

Glennon wont have Alshon Jeffrey as a go-to target

The good news for Glennon is that Jordan Howard looked phenomenal as a rookie starter last year, finishing second in total rushing yards (just behind fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot) despite not starting the first four games. If he stays healthy, the O-Line stays cohesive, and Howard doesn't suffer from a sophomore slump, then Glennon should have a reliable running game to lean on. The bad news is that Glennon might not have anyone to throw to. The Bears didn't place the franchise tag on receiver Alshon Jeffrey, and so the Eagles snatched him up in free agency.

Alshon Jeffrey to Eagles
Alshon Jeffrey is taking his big play
potential to the Eagles.

The Alshon Jeffrey / Keven White combo was supposed to be one of the best receiving duos in the league last year, but shaky quarterback play and an injury to White prevented that from panning out. White has now been injured for almost all of his first two seasons, leaving his long-term durability in question. Backup receiver Cameron Meredith showed some sparks last year, but was also unreliable. He might end up being a number 2 or number 3 receiver in 2017 if the Bears don't find a reliable veteran in free agency.

The Bears have the third overall pick in the draft, which they could still use to take a top-tier quarterback if they want to give Glennon some competition. Or they can try to take an elite receiver to replace Jeffrey and give Glennon another weapon to throw to. Unfortunately, the Bears have a lot of positional needs. The offensive line has been patchwork for a few years. The defense was also porous last year, especially in the secondary.

Not a reassuring start to the offseason

While I'm tempted to say that letting go of Jay Cutler already makes the Bears' offseason an overwhelming success, the other moves surrounding Cutler's departure have me less-than-optimistic. The loss of Alshon Jeffrey is a huge blow. I'm also really unsure about Glennon. Personally, I was hoping for the Bears to get Tony Romo from the Cowboys. He wouldn't have cost that much more than Glennon - heck, he might even have cost less. The Bears could then have signed Glennon to a much cheaper backup contract. I know Romo isn't a long-term plan, but he could have worked as a stop-gap player for the next couple years and could have mentored Glennon, a young draft pick, or current backups like Connor Shaw. It would have taken the pressure off of the Bears to get a quarterback now and would have allowed them to develop somebody and build the team around him.

In any case, the Bears are taking a gamble with Glennon and/or whoever they decide to draft this April (as they'll surely draft a quarterback at some point). I'm not holding my breath for a playoff run, but at least with Cutler out, I don't have to go into the 2017 season expecting a train wreck.

Mike Glennon under pressure
Mike Glennon has not performed well under pressure, and the Bears have given up a lot of sacks in recent years.

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