Before free agency for 2013 even gets started in the NFL, the Chicago Bears have to be thinking a little bit about next year’s moves with the contract of quarterback Jay Cutler expiring following the 2013 season. Cutler is a bit of a lightning rod for fans in the Windy City. You have some fans who think Cutler can do no wrong and you have your fans who criticize and are all over Cutler’s every move.
Before landing Cutler in a blockbuster trade in the spring of 2009, the Bears have had some really bad quarterbacks over the years. Bears fans had to watch failure after failure line up under center. When the Bears traded for Cutler, most Bears fans were elated, knowing they were getting a legit proven signal caller. While things have not always gone the way everyone imagined, Cutler has been a solid quarterback during his time in Chicago.
His value was never proven greater than when Cutler was lost for the season late in 2011. The Bears floundered down the stretch limping to an 8-8 finish and third in the NFC North. This downfall lead to the Bears deciding to fire then-general manager Jerry Angelo. The backups who tried to replace Cutler in 2011 did not have anywhere close to his skill set and the sad part about those backups is that in years prior, that is what Bears fans would have been stuck with as their starter.
There have been two large issues that have negatively affected Cutler’s progress in Chicago. One is that the offensive line protecting Jay has been below average his entire time here. A good portion of his injuries have been a result of poor protection. He has spent so much time running for his life and not getting the looks down field as a result.
The other major issue for the Bears and Cutler has been the lack of multiple offensive weapons. While the Bears offense boasts both wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Matt Forte, they seemingly can’t get it all together. In 2011, Forte was a majority of the Bears offense due to a lack of a true number one wide receiver. In 2012, Marshall became the focal point of the Bears’ offense and Forte seemingly became a forgotten man. For the offense to be successful, the Bears need to incorporate both, along with adding a true tight end and complimentary wide receivers. Bring all of that together and you will see the true talent that is Jay Cutler.
Cap-wise, the Bears are not in a position to extend Cutler this off season, but they have to be thinking about it for next year. He has to be thinking almost Joe Flacco style: go into the final year of a deal, have a career year and make your value the highest it can be so the Bears are forced to pay top dollar. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Bears also have the trump card on their side in the franchise tag. Will Cutler be tagged in 2014 or will both sides reach an amicable deal?