The absurdity of the NFL’s silly season can be summed up in two words: Mike Glennon.
Glennon, for those not familiar – and if you’re not, consider yourself lucky because it means your favorite team does not have a black hole at quarterback – has started all of 18 games in his four-year career, the last of which was back in 2014. He has thrown half as many interceptions (15) as he has touchdowns (30), has completed just under 60% of his passes and has a QB rating of 84.6.
And for that, Glennon is about to cash in, with the Chicago Bears ready to offer him more than $14 million a year, according to multiple news media outlets. That’s not Drew Brees money, but it’s far more than Glennon is worth.
This is nothing against Glennon, mind you. Like Brock Osweiler, Mark Sanchez, Matt Cassel and any number of serviceable-but-not-stellar quarterbacks before him, he didn’t create the market. But if someone is willing to throw foolish amounts of money at him, he'd be just as foolish to turn it down.
The demand for free-agent quarterbacks is inflated by its nature. The NFL is a quarterbacks league, particularly in the playoffs, and not having a good one means a team might as well kiss its Super Bowl chances goodbye in training camp. It also means its front office will do whatever is necessary to avoid being in that same situation next season.
With rare exceptions, however, elite quarterbacks don’t wind up in free agency. Washington didn’t slap the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for a second consecutive year to be nice or because it had nothing better to do. No, Washington knew if didn’t hang onto Cousins it would find itself with the other have-nots, picking through the backups and also-rans and praying they somehow got another Brees or Kurt Warner.
But this is a particularly bad year to be in the market for a new starting quarterback, what with Tony Romo’s future in Dallas unresolved and New England holding on to Jimmy Garoppolo — for now, at least. Unlike last year, there aren’t any quick fixes in the draft, either.
That means desperate teams will do even more desperate things than usual. Like overpay for Mike Glennon. Or Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley or Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith, none of whom is going to make the difference between yet another sub-par season and the Super Bowl.
(By the way, you know the talent pool is shallow when three of the seven best quarterbacks available are former Bears and another is a future Bear.)
If a quarterback is good, his team is going to try mightily to hold onto him. If it doesn’t, well, replacing one mediocre quarterback with another might placate fans until the season starts, but it doesn’t fix the problem. One team’s trash rarely ends up being another team’s treasure.
Now, the one exception this year might be Colin Kaepernick.
It doesn’t bode well that his anthem protests are the most noteworthy thing he’s done the past two seasons. But you have to consider that his injuries in 2015 were more severe than first thought. And given the dumpster fire the San Francisco 49ers have been since Jim Harbaugh was fired, their record might not be the best gauge of Kaepernick’s abilities.
Kaepernick was good enough to get San Francisco to the Super Bowl in his first season as a starter and back to the NFC Championship game the next year. Put him in the right system, with the right pieces around him, and there’s a chance he could be an elite quarterback again.
There are no guarantees, of course. But there aren’t with any of the guys out there.
That’s why they’re on the market.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.