By now everyone who cares knows the details for Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s seven-year, $126.7 million contract. According to a league source, the deal didn’t include a signing bonus and has $54 million in total guaranteed money. The deal averages $18.1 million per year. source
Note: I created this graphic based on numbers reported here. If the info is wrong, don’t blame be, blame Yahoo Sports.
I don’t speak NFL salary cap but it looks to me like the Bears essentially signed Cutler to a three year deal when you consider that there is no guaranteed money owed to Cutler beyond Year Three. After that, the Bears can keep or release him depending on how things look. If he continues to improve and the Bears succeed, then they can keep him. If things go sour, they can part ways at a time when it is better to invest in a new franchise quarterback. My definition of improve is:
- make the playoffs the next three years
- go deep in the playoffs with at least one NFC championship trip
- sweep the packers 2 of the next three years.
Okay perhaps that last one is asking too much, but we are overdue.
Why not re-sign Josh McCown and get a young QB in the draft to develop? Cutler is four years younger than the 34-year-old McCown and has superior arm strength and consistency. Plus, who’s to say that McCown won’t be a one-year wonder? Cutler has proven throughout his career that he is capable of performing at a high level when the people are around him. [I’m not saying that you don’t still try to re-sign McCown and get a QB in the draft. It just means it becomes less of a do or die imperative.]
Remember this is a Bears team that almost went to the playoffs in spite of their defense, which needs the most amount of work. If their defense was just a shadow of the defense that started in September, Chicago would have had a reason to care about NFL football one more weekend (other than to see Green Bay lose). I see this as a 3 year window to get to the Super Bowl or start over.
It’s all about flexibility and Bears GM Phil Emery did a remarkable job structuring Cutler’s contract, front-loading the deal so all of the guaranteed money will be earned over the first three seasons. That provides Chicago with enough flexibility to fix the defense now and when young players such as Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills and many others are due for extensions, evaluate giving them lucrative deals.
Re-signing Jay Cutler was a smart decision and it’s time to move one and stop bitching about it.
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