CINCINNATI – The phone call came while Cordy Glenn was on his way to the Green Bay airport, getting ready to board the first leg of his return flight to Buffalo on March 12.
It was from his agent, Todd France.
“You’re being traded,” were the first words out of France’s mouth.
Glenn, who had been at the Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics clinic for a follow-up examination by Dr. James Andrews a couple of weeks after surgery on his left ankle, was shocked. He never anticipated his seventh season in the NFL would be with any team other than the Buffalo Bills, who made the offensive tackle a second-round pick from Georgia in 2012.
Now, he was suddenly a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I think you never know you’re getting traded or anything like that,” Glenn said during a recent conversation with the Buffalo News at the Bengals’ training camp. “When it hits you, it’s just like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even see it coming.’ ”
The Bills shipped Glenn, a first-round pick (21st overall) and a fifth-round choice in last April’s draft to the Bengals in exchange for the 12th overall selection (which they would later send to Tampa Bay to jump to seventh overall and land quarterback Josh Allen) and a sixth-rounder.
After hanging up with France, Glenn was still processing the news when his phone rang again. This time it was Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott saying their goodbyes and wishing him well.
“And just like that, I went from having the last couple of words with Brandon Beane and Coach McDermott to just moving on and starting to talk with (Bengals) Coach (Marvin) Lewis and (team owner/president) Mr. (Mike) Brown,” Glenn said.
That’s how fast worlds are rocked in the NFL. Teams change coaches and GMs, and opinions about players on the roster have a way of changing with them. Last year McDermott and Beane became Glenn’s fourth head coach and third GM, respectively, in Buffalo.
Yet, even after a season in which he missed 11 games (including the wild-card playoff loss at Jacksonville) due to chronic issues with his left ankle and foot, Glenn saw himself sticking around. Maybe it was wishful thinking or simply being conditioned to believe he can clear any hurdle.
“Especially being drafted by a team, you always want the best for yourself, you always want to be successful,” he said. “I started off good, had a couple of injuries or whatever, it kind of set me back. Right now, I’m just kind of moving past that and happy to be here in Cincinnati. I’m happy they want me here. I look forward to doing good things, big things with this team.”
On Sunday, Glenn plays his first game in a different uniform at New Era Field when the Bills face the Bengals in the third game of the preseason.
Given that it’s considered a final tuneup for the regular season, Glenn, as with most of the starters, should see his most significant action of the summer. He insists he isn’t packing a grudge in his duffel bag.
“At the end of the day, things work out the way they’re supposed to work out,” he said. “So, to this day, I can’t be mad. I’m happy to be here in Cincinnati.”
Expectations were high when the Bills drafted the 6-foot-6, 345-pound Glenn. The team thought he would be a longtime fixture at left tackle, where he became its first rookie to start there since Glenn Parker did so in 1990.
Glenn was seemingly on that path through the 2015 season, after which the Bills signed him to a five-year contract extension worth $65 million.
Then, injuries got in the way of his ability to prove that it was a wise investment.
He missed five starts in 2016 before another injury-shortened season last year when he played in only six games before the Bills placed him on injured reserve in mid-December. Rookie Dion Dawkins seized the opportunity afforded by Glenn’s absence to prove that he could handle the starting job at left tackle well enough to allow the Bills to move on without the veteran.
Glenn, who said he’s feeling fine physically, was reluctant to go into any details about his health problems with the Bills.
“I had a lot of different things going on,” he said. “It definitely, I think, was an issue. I think with injuries sometimes, it’s like mental and a physical thing compounding on it.”
If Glenn harbors any ill will toward the fans or media who were critical of his inability to live up to the big contract, he doesn’t show it.
“I love all the fans in Buffalo, the community, organization,” he said. “But I think, just as an athlete, at the end of the day, especially a professional athlete, when it comes to something like that, I don't think you're thinking about, ‘Oh, the outsiders all (are being critical).’ You’re kind of just thinking like, internally within your locker room and with your team, you’re just trying to just work to do what you can and try to rehab and do all the things you can without sitting there just being like, ‘Oh, well, I heard this, I read this, so I have to do this.’
“Things happen, just like (in) anybody’s life. You’ve just got to take it in, just observe it and you just kind of move on and just keep going.”
Glenn has more than enough to occupy his thoughts. He has spent the offseason, training camp and two preseason games making a significant adjustment to a blocking scheme that is different from the one in which he operated for most of his time with the Bills.
“In Buffalo, a lot of what they did was a little more gap-scheme, man-scheme oriented,” Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack said. “We’re going a little more wide-zone oriented, but there are a lot of plays that were similar, just getting him out and pulling in space. He did a lot of that on tape in Buffalo and it was impressive, seeing the big man run.
“He’s real nimble and light on his feet. He’s got great length. Got to keep honing his fundamentals and some techniques that might be a little new from what he's been taught in the past, but he's a big man that's got great feet. It’s impressive. His balance. When healthy, he’s a solid, solid, solid tackle. I’m excited to work with him.”
Glenn is equally excited to be on a team with offensive talent such as wide receiver A.J. Green and running back Joe Mixon.
“Oh, man, he’s explosive. Ex-plo-sive,” Glenn said of Mixon. “I think we can go as far as we want to. All we’ve got to do is just keep working, just keep putting bricks on every day, keep stacking our foundation, not trying to peak too early and just trying to find something, at the end of the day, to get better at, to work on.
“It could be the smallest thing, but just working on it and trying to get better at it. And I think we can go as far as we want to go.”
Story topics: Cordy Glenn