Cutler release highlights Bears uneven start to free agency

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The long-anticipated breakup between the Chicago Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler  happened Thursday. Unfortunately for Bears fans, that was the big news as NFL free agency kicked off in high gear.

Primed with plenty of salary cap space, many observers figured the Bears to be aggressive in a restocking a talent-deprived roster. Instead, the Bears cut the cord with Cutler, replacing him with former Tampa Bay backup Mike Glennon. While evaluators remain split on Glennon’s upside, most believe him to be a strong-armed, quick-release trigger man with good intangibles and leadership ability. Whether he’ll operate effectively behind a Chicago offensive line that can struggle to protect the passer remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, WR Alshon Jeffery decided to move on, signing a one-year contract with Philadelphia for a reported $14 million. Jeffery will gamble on his ability to resurface as one of the league’s upper echelon wideouts. It became apparent that the Bears, and perhaps John Fox in particular, weren’t fond of Jeffery’s work habits and reluctance to participate in off-season activities.

Back to Cutler, the Bears organization was quick to praise him in prepared comments announcing the move. The star-crossed relationship began with great fanfare but soon disintegrated behind a series of mind-numbing mistakes, injuries, and general bad luck.

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Bears enter free agency with big needs, lots of $

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As NFL free agency kicks off, expect the Chicago Bears to be active in search of difference makers to help erase the memories of a 3-13 season.

Here are five names to remember that the Bears may target:

1. Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay. Glennon is a tall (6-6), lanky drop-back passer with an above average arm and quick release. Hidden in the shadows with Tampa Bay as the backup to Jameis Winston, Glennon actually started for parts of his first two seasons in the league, playing adequately behind a woeful Tampa supporting cast. He lacks mobility, but can step up in the pocket and sidestep pressure. High percentage passer best in play-action scheme that maximizes a strong running game. Glennon will probably be overpaid and a short-term bridge for whatever team gets his signature on a contract.

2. Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo. Gilmore is a former first-rounder who has been steady, not spectacular during his tenure with the Bills. He picked a good time to hit free agency based on a 2016 season where he intercepted five passes and displayed some characteristics of a lockdown corner. Gilmore is a smooth athlete with good size and quick feet. He isn’t afraid to offer run support. Gilmore will upgrade the deep patrol immediately, but he figures to carry a steep price tag.

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