It makes less and less financial sense to give quarterbacks massive contracts unless you’re completely sure they’re your franchise guy. The Chicago Bears, after almost five seasons with Jay Cutler, probably realize they have to go in a different direction, which means the 8-year veteran is going to be one of the biggest names in free agency a few months from now.
Whether or not the Bears do make it into the playoffs, their problems this season weren’t just about Cutler’s injury or his inability to shake off that interception habit, throwing 8 in the 8 games he’s played in. The defense has declined, with injuries hurting it even more, and not all of Marc Trestman’s decisions have been easy to understand.
Financially, the new CBA seems to push teams to always go for the rookies and cheap players, while only really investing in superstars. While that’s generally always been the idea, the last couple of seasons have showed that even middle of the road guys, who used to get quite beneficial contracts thanks to their experience and OK talent are struggling to get the same kind of money or even a place in the league unless they settle for much less than they’re used to.
So what will this mean for Cutler? There are plenty of teams in need of a quarterback, but all those who have fully invested in one to a point where it’s crippling their salary cap did feeling they got someone who is worth keeping forever. The Giants might feel sorry right now they’re paying Eli Manning so much, but he is a two-time Super Bowl champion. Cutler hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010.
Teddy Bridgewater is going to lead the class of quarterbacks coming out of college, which looked a lot more impressive a week ago. Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray tore their ACLs while Marcus Mariota announced he’s staying with Oregon for another year. Johnny Manziel might be yet another Tim Tebow but he’ll generate interest, and so will someone like Tajh Boyd.
The Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and possibly the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders will be looking for quarterbacks. Only one of them is going to get Bridgewater, who doesn’t come with the kind of hype Andrew Luck and RG3 did two years ago. Someone is going to go for Cutler and pay him big money. The Bears, however, are probably going in a different direction, that makes more sense for them.