A lot of Chicago Bears fans want to see a new era begin; one that doesn’t include Jay Cutler at quarterback. However, despite rumors of him being placed on the trading block and the team actively shopping him around, he’s staying for at least one more year.
Cutler started in 15 games last season for the Bears in what turned out to be their worst season since his arrival, which led to the firing of the head coach and the general manager. Cutler has been with the Bears since 2009, but hasn’t led them to the playoffs in all but one season (2010). After some signs of improvement under Trestman during his first year with the head coach, previously considered as some sort of offensive genius, last year was a complete debacle.
Cutler led the NFL with 18 interceptions and looked miserable on plenty of occasions that the Bears were blown out in. Cutler has been criticized in the past for quitting on his team. That might be a bit harsh, but as the team’s face and leader, it’s hard to generate a following and enthusiasm among your teammates when it looks like you want to go home after the second quarter.
A lot of Cutler’s numbers and touchdowns from last season came during garbage time moments – often it was the entire second half. He was actually more accurate than he’s ever been and his TD% and INT% aren’t different from previous years. The fact that he was sacked 38 times suggests his decline and the Bears’ failure might have something to do with the offensive line, and not just his ability.
The Bears have re-signed Jimmy Clausen to be the backup, although the new team of John Fox (head coach) and Ryan Pace (general manager) have yet to endorse Cutler as their starting quarterback. The Bears are passively listening to offers that might be coming in for Cutler, but it’s hard to believe anyone going for him while he has so much guaranteed money headed his way.
Cutler is scheduled to make $15.5 million in 2015 with an additional $10 million guaranteed for injury in 2016 if he is on the roster as of Thursday. He could make an additional $6 million if he is on the roster at the start of the league year next March. Cutting him right now might open the way for a new era, but it makes very little sense financially.
There are other rumors circulating, one giving Cutler some hope about his standing with the team. Adam Gase, the new offensive coordinator, is possibly designing a new playbook that might help better utilize the strengths of Cutler. It’s also hard to expect to see consistency from a quarterback when he gets a new offensive coordinator each season.