The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will almost certainly trade Mike Glennon before the season starts. That may be during the 2014 NFL draft, or after -- but his days as a starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are probably numbered. That's a quickly-emerging consensus based on plain common sense: The Bucs signed Josh McCown to be their starter, and they want to draft a quarterback to back him up, or even take that starting job.
That leaves precious little room on the roster for Mike Glennon, who is probably good enough to start for some teams -- or at least compete for their starting job, rather than being relegated to third-string. And given that he's good enough to start and still has three years remaining on a cheap, rookie contract, Glennon should fetch a fair price in trade.
What is Mike Glennon really worth in trade?
Mike Glennon's trade value is hard to evaluate, because his situation is pretty unique. He was worth just a third-round pick last year, but he probably outperformed that pick during the season. Many outside observers, including Greg Cosell, Cian Fahey and Matt Williamson, think the Bucs should pin their hopes on him -- but the new regime appears to fundamentally disagree.
If any coach or general manager sees Glennon the same way, his value should be fairly high. He's still under contract for three seasons at a very cheap rate, which only increases his price. Of course, the fact that the Bucs want to move on may lead teams to wait, but Tampa Bay could be happy keeping him on the roster as a backup until they can find a deal they're happy with -- whether that's now or in two years' time.
We can look to some recent trades as a general guidance.
Matt Cassel + Mike Vrabel - 2nd-round pick (34th overall)
Patriots to Chiefs, 2009
Another interesting trade, with multiple factors. As with Kolb, Cassel would have to be signed to an expensive contract, even more so because he was operating under an expensive franchise tag. That depressed his value -- but Scott Pioli had just become the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, and wanted Cassel.
Cassel put up some amazing statistics in his one year as a starter before being traded, but those were also in part the result of a ridiculous supporting cast that included Randy Moss and Wes Welker in their primes. His one season was significantly more productive than Mike Glennon's, at least statistically.
Charlie Whitehurst - Trade up in second round + future third-round pick
Chargers to Seahawks, 2010
Charlie Whitehurst at the time of this trade had been a backup only in San Diego, albeit a talented one behind Philip Rivers. Apparently the Seattle Seahawks loved him enough to trade for him and have him compete with Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job. Oh the love of mediocrity.
Whitehurst was a less proven and probably a worse player than Mike Glennon, and he would require a new contract, albeit a relatively cheap one. Really, the Bucs should be able to better than Whitehurst's bounty in trade.
Kevin Kolb - 2nd-round pick (51st overall) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Eagles to Cardinals, 2011
This is an intriguing trade, to me. This trade happened in July, thanks in no small part to the lockout, after the Arizona Cardinals missed out (or passed on) all of the potential starting quarterbacks in the draft. There was hence some urgency for them to find a starter, which likely drove up the price.
But other factors would make Kolb less valuable than Mike Glennon. He was in the final year of his contract, and would need to paid a rather hefty sum in Arizona -- which he was. He also had less starting experience in the NFL with just 7 games, and mediocre statistics (worse statistics than Glennon's in almost every category).
It's also important to note that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was an inconsistent player on an expensive contract. He had value, but it wasn't as much as may be assumed at first glance.
Alex Smith - 2nd-round pick (34th overall) & 2014 pick (3rd-rounder, a 2nd-rounder if Chiefs finished 8-8 or better in 2013)
Chiefs to Cardinals, 2013
This is the most recent comparable trade. Alex Smith had been a bad starter for most of his career, until Jim Harbaugh turned him into a quality quarterback. He was benched for Colin Kaepernick after injury, and never got the starting job back. Meanwhile, Andy Reid didn't have a quarterback and apparently didn't see one he liked in the 2013 NFL draft. Smith had two years remaining on a relatively cheap contract.
This is probably the ceiling for Mike Glennon in trade. He certainly showed more than Alex Smith in his one year starting than Smith did early on, but Smith is physically more gifted, and performed at a pretty high level immediately prior to the trade. Plus, Andy Reid loved him.
Carson Palmer - 7th-round pick
Raiders to Cardinals, 2013
This was a strange trade, for a number of reasons. For one, the Oakland Raiders were determined to get rid of Palmer and his expensive contract, which significantly depressed his value. He also hadn't played well in recent years, though part of that was his supporting cast. The Cardinals gave up nothing for him to become their starter. The contract and the Raiders' intent makes this one a weird comparison, but you can consider this an absolute (if unlikely) worst-case scenario.
Possible trade partners
New England Patriots
With Ryan Mallett heading into the final year of his contract, the Patriots want to get something in return for him -- and they will want another backup/heir apparent to Tom Brady. With Greg Schiano advising Bill Belichick, they may see what they want in Mike Glennon. Downside: the Patriots rarely give up (too) much for any player, so they may not give up much for Glennon, either.
One interesting scenario would be trading Mike Glennon to the St. Louis Rams, swapping first-round picks in the process. The Rams have been looking at draftable quarterbacks, and Sam Bradford has just two years remaining on a contract, one which he has underperformed by a significant margin. Such a trade would give the Rams solid insurance for Bradford, while allowing the Bucs to select a better prospect at any number of positions -- whether it be quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end or offensive line. Of course, Jeff Fisher has a history of preferring more mobile quarterbacks, and they are reported to be interested in Johnny Manziel.
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner likes static, pocket passers, having coached Philip Rivers, Brad Johnson, Troy Aikman, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden. Mike Glennon would fit his offense, though he would need to work on his deep ball for the vertical passing game. Still, the Vikings may prefer trading for Glennon rather than drafting one of the many flawed QBs, especially if they miss out on a QB in the draft.
No one ever talks about the Titans much, but they may be a trade partner here. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt likes his pocket passers, like Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers, and the team is unlikely to feel married to floundering and oft-injured Jake Locker. As they're picking farther back than most
Bruce Arians traded for Carson Palmer last year, but they have no backup plan and no future beyond Palmer at quarterback. Arians is another coach who favors a deep passing game built on pocket passers, which fits Mike Glennon at least reasonably well.
Overall, a second- or third-round pick seems like the average going rate for a (likely) starting quarterback. The problem complicating this is the amount of talented (if flawed) quarterbacks available in this draft, who may take a coach's fancy over Mike Glennon. If they can decide between Jimmy Garoppolo in the third round, or spending that pick on Mike Glennon, which will they choose?
As with all trades in the NFL, it's easier said than done, and they rarely play out as you'd expect. The Bucs may be aiming for a second-round pick, but they were certainly aiming for something with Darrelle Revis, too -- and that quickly turned into nothing. Glennon won't be released, of course, but it's difficult to gauge what he would gather in trade.
Whatever his price, though, it's time for Bucs fans to move on from Mike Glennon. That's exactly what the Buccaneers are set to do, after all.