Re-Signing Jay Cutler a Good Move by the Chicago Bears

 The Chicago Bears announced that they re-signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a seven-year deal worth reportedly $126 million with $54 million guaranteed according to the NFL Network.  If the numbers are correct, Cutler will earn approximately $18 million per season.  When the smoke clears, this will be ultimately viewed as a good move by the Bears.  

While the signing of a franchise quarterback to a long term deal is usually a good thing, some questioned the wisdom of paying a talented, yet sometimes mistake-prone player to such a large contract.  In addition, Cutler is not universally popular in Chicago since he has never tried to curry favor with the fans, the media, his coaches and even some of his teammates.

It is true that teams that do not have to devote as much cap space to their quarterback position have a huge advantage.  Teams that were able to draft franchise quarterbacks under the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) rookie wage scale are in the best position and all in the playoffs –  Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson,  San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Carolina Panthers and of course the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck.

However, drafting a franchise quarterback is fraught with risk and is rarely a sure thing.  The St. Louis Rams have struggled with quarterback Sam Bradford and his huge old CBA rookie contract.  The Oakland Raiders missed badly with JaMarcus Russell.  There are too many examples to list them all.  It seems that the best way to draft a franchise quarterback is when you have the position already filled and you do not have to have a quarterback like the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers or even the 49ers and Kaepernick.

However, although Cutler remains a work in progress much like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Cutler was the best option for the Bears.  First, Cutler has a lot of talent, but he has not always used all of it correctly.  Bears coach Marc Trestman clearly believes in Cutler.  Trestman is a quarterback guru and offensive mind that turned the Bears’ biggest weakness into its biggest strength in one year.  Thus, if Bears coach Marc Trestman can make a journeyman like Josh McCown look like a starter, imagine what he could do with Cutler long term?

Second, the Bears finished 8-8, but mainly due to the weaknesses in the defense.  By re-signing Cutler, the Bears keep intact an offense that will scare teams.  Cutler has so many weapons like Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.    Those weapons no doubt helped make Josh McCown part of a quarterback controversy in Chicago this season.  The offensive line with rookies Jordan Mills and Kyle Long and veteran Jermon Bushrod is also sure to further improve.

Also, Cutler was better this season with his consistency.  Since Cutler came to Chicago, he was saddled with a merry-go-around of offensive coordinators under Lovie Smith.  Cutler learned a new offense nearly every year.  Next year, Cutler will have the luxury of improving his knowledge and play under the same system.  It is quite possible that Cutler really shines in the next season or two.

By shoring up the offense with the Cutler re-signing, the Bears can now concentrate almost exclusively on defense in free agency and the draft.  They have so many defensive  holes to fill.  The cap space devoted to Cutler’s contract will affect the Bears’ options, but if the Bears draft well in May, the Bears could be a team to watch next year.  And if a possible franchise quarterback should fall the Bears way in the draft in the next couple years…


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