When the Bears signed quarterback Andy Dalton, it seemed like deja vu.
Here was a veteran quarterback coming to Halas Hall on a one-year deal and the Bears were expected to have interest in drafting a quarterback, as well.
Flash back to 2017 when Bears GM Ryan Pace, now rid of the albatross known as Jay Cutler's contract, rushed out and signed Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million deal, if maxed out. Basically, though, it was a one year and $16 million.
A month later, Pace traded up and signed Mitchell Trubisky.
"This year is my year," Glennon said, when meeting afterward with Chicago media for the first time.
Everyone avoided chuckling.
Four weeks into the season his year ended and the Trubisky era began.
Now fast-forward into the 2021 offseason, and in free agency the Bears signed Andy Dalton for what is essentially a one-year deal, but it has bonus money prorated on two dummy years after 2021 to make the $10 million compabible with the reduced salary cap of pandemic times.
"They told me I was the starter," Dalton said when he held a Zoom press conference with Chicago media. "That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here."
Where have we heard that before?
And by the way, every Bears team official short of team assistant equipment manager Carl Piekarski has been around at pro days all spring assessing anyone who ever picked up a football and made an overhand toss.
It truly does seem history is headed for a repeat, with Dalton in the role of Glennon.
It's not. It's a false narrative, and here's why.
1. Andy Dalton is on a higher level than Mike Glennon
Glennon came to Chicago after only one season as a starter in Tampa Bay. The one year had been three years earlier, and he started 13 of the 16 games as a rookie. Then Lovie Smith benched him in 2014 in favor of former Bears backup Josh McCown and Glennon didn't even play in 2015 as Jameis Winston became starter. Glennon threw 11 passes in a backup role in 2016 and somehow, based on the partial 2013 season as a starter, Pace decided Glennon had what was necessary to be the bridge starter at quarterback.
Glennon was to take us all in for that soft landing to the start the Mitchell Trubisky era, something like Alex Smith did with the start of the Patrick Mahommes era. Maybe it would come in a year or two.
But Glennon had been uninspiring with the Buccaneers when he did play. He averaged only 6.5 yards a pass attempt, had an 84.6 passer rating and completed 59.4% of his throws.
What happened to Glennon in Chicago was not the result of Bears double talk about who was to be starter in 2017. They didn't lie about his chance to be the starter going forward even though they drafted Trubisky. Former coach John Fox didn't have a hidden agenda.
Nor was it a case of Mitchell Trubisky being so good they just couldn't keep him on the bench. His passer rating on the year was barely better than Glennon's.
Glennon got benched because he stunk.
The end of the Glennon era came because in four games he fumbled it five times and he threw five interceptions.
Glennon stumbled around without a clue. His 76.9 passer rating told the story. His play in the loss at Green Bay was clownish. Then he went to the bench.
One of the underpublicized miracles of the 2017 NFL season was how the Bears beat the Pittsburgh Steelers with Glennon at quarterback (hint: they handed off a lot to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen). Glennon's 66.4% completion number looks positively scintillating but was achieved largely because the Bears fell behind quickly and he was throwing underneath against soft coverage so much. Completions were easy then but completions early in games were not so easy.
On the other hand, Dalton has played 10 seasons, led teams to five playoff berths and enjoyed success on a plain Glennon never imagined possible. He has never won a playoff game, it's true. And he is in the back stretch of his career at age 33, but he has never played at a level to where anyone would confuse him with Glennon.
So, if Dalton is to be benched in favor of a rookie quarterback, it most likely will require a complete collapse by the "Red Rifle," or the team just being unsuccessful for an extended period with coaches wanting to move on to see the rookie.
This is not the veteran coming in to hold a spot for four games and then be shuffled out the door with everyone at Halas Hall holding their nose as if someone left sushi laying about in the building for an entire weekend while the team was away on a road trip. (Pssst, that actually happened once and the entire building needed fumigation).
2. Dalton is only slated for one year anyway
Coming in, Dalton knows it's one year and not a multiyear deal. Glennon's deal was for three years, it simply had an out after a year where the Bears could escape with less damage and they took the exit, stage left. Glennon had every opportunity to stay if he played well and kept Trubisky on the bench. He was bad and couldn't.
If Dalton is good, the Bears will need to do something to get him to stay because he has no salary for 2022. He is done and headed off to whatever other city wants to offer him a nice deal.
The Bears presumably would then let their rookie begin play.
3. Everyone knows a rookie could be drafted
Dalton isn't trumpeting he's the guy. He merely said he's the starter this year. He even admitted the team could be bringing in a rookie.
Pace acknowledged at his press conference that the situation with two veteran quarterbacks lends itself well to bringing in a rookie.
He's been a starter in the league for a long time and produced at a high level for a long time. That's all of us collectively in the building, coaches and scouts, coming to that conclusion as we went through the free agency process and, yeah, he's our starting quarterback as we head into the season.
When Glennon came on board, Pace did not let Fox in on the fact he was going to draft Trubisky. It was a total surprise to the team's coach.
Everything is above board and laid out nicely. No one should have false illusions.
They're definitely not hiding it from the coach. Matt Nagy is taking part in choosing the player. Remember what it's all about this year when finding a quarterback: collaboration.
4. Bears may not even get a rookie who could play in 2021
When Glennon came in, the Bears had the third pick and traded up for No. 2. They had their choice of any of the draft's top quarterbacks, as everyone always will remind Pace.
This time they might be begging Dalton to stick around in 2022 because they might not get to pick a quarterback until the middle rounds.
Expecting a quarterback chosen then to be a better choice to play than Dalton would mean either Dalton's career tanked or the Bears actually had a real find in the draft. They definitely wouldn't mind the latter scenario but it doesn't happen very often on the last day of the draft or even the second day.