The Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery today announced that the team had signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a new seven-year contract that will take Cutler through the year 2020. According to FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez, the new deal will average about $18 million per year in the first three seasons.
“We’re very excited to have Jay for the long term,” Emery said. “He battled through the tough times and kept fighting. I see improvement in his ball security, distribution to his targets and a transformation in his demeanor as a leader.”
Despite missing five games with ankle and groin injuries, Cutler finished the season with 2,621 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In the Bears winner-take-all Week 17 game against the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title, Cutler completed 15-of-24 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one pick.
Cutler was to be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season, and his future with the Bears was a frequent topic of discussion throughout the year.
“As we have mentioned previously, all contract issues will be worked on postseason,” Emery said in early December. “That includes Jay and a number of other Bears players. Before Jay’s injury, he was playing at a high level and we were very pleased with his progress.”
The Bears could have put the franchise tag on Cutler, but Emery didn’t seem to be going down that road.
“The franchise tag for the quarterback position has unique challenges because the average comes out to be such a big portion of your cap and your total money available to spend on other players to acquire to help your team. With the franchise tag being so high for the quarterback position, to use it and not sign the individual to a long-term deal hurts the team because you lose the ability to prorate the amount of guaranteed salary over the length of the contract. Proration lowers the salary cap number in relation to that player’s contract. Obviously the lower the number in relation to the salary cap, the more players you can sign to help your team reach its goals.”
So the Bears invest $54m in Jay Cutler for the next three years, but is he the answer in Chicago. In a division that includes Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, Cutler is the 3rd best QB in the division. Is that money well spent Bears fans?