Perhaps the most under-publicized player going into a contract year is Jay Cutler. Even though he’s likely one of the next quarterbacks to sign a big contract, not much has been made of the Bears plans for him.
John Mullin from Csnchicago.com thinks the Bears have indicated they would like to keep Cutler beyond the 2013 season.
“One domino in the Cutler scenario came when the Bears did not secure a quarterback for development in this year’s draft. […] Had coaches Marc Trestman, Aaron Kromer and Matt Cavanaugh on offense – three individuals who know some things about quarterbacks – concluded that a QB was a need, Emery would have found a way to get one.”
This is a great point, as the Bears likely would have already started to put a contingency plan in place had they decided there was a realistic chance they would not to re-sign Cutler. And even though Cutler will likely never be a top 5 (or maybe even top 10) quarterback in the NFL, talents like Cutler don’t come around very often. When a team comes across a top 12-16 quarterback in the NFL like he is (like Joe Flacco is, like Matthew Stafford is, and like Tony Romo is), it isn’t advisable to let them walk away simply because the quarterback position is so valuable and essential in the NFL today.
Now comes the price for Cutler’s services beyond 2013.
“The ‘slot’ for second-tier quarterbacks (5 years, $76.5 million) has been roughly set by Stafford. The Bears can play out the 2013 season with Cutler playing to show if he is at that level or still in the third-echelon.”
Frankly, even if Cutler doesn’t perform up to the par Matthew Stafford has, thus proving himself to be a “second-tier” quarterback, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a contract similar to Stafford’s on the open market, and maybe even higher. Keep in mind, at 30 years old, this is probably Cutler’s last big contract of his NFL career, and he’s going to want every penny he can get.
However, Cutler won’t necessarily be on the open market after next year, as the Bears have the ability to franchise tag him. This could prompt Cutler (again, since this is likely his last chance at a big contract) to take the safer route and agree to a lesser deal just to have insurance against injury.
However this plays out, it will surely be interesting to watch as the first important joint-decision of new head coach Marc Trestman and GM Phil Emery’s career together with the Bears.