Just a few days after the Chicago Bears fell short of earning a playoff berth, they moved quickly to lock up Jay Cutler for the foreseeable future, signing the quarterback to a seven-year contract extension.
The deal, Foxsports.com’s Alex Marvez reports, averages about $18 million per season over the first three years. It means Cutler will not be a free agent and he will not be slapped with the franchise tag. “Moving forward there will definitely be people that say this is the wrong move,” he said (via the Chicago Tribune’s Rich Campbell). “That’s fine.”
The deal, General Manager Phil Emery told reporters (via the Tribune), was key “as far as how we manage our salary cap” and was completed quickly because it was one that “both parties wanted.”
Cutler, 30, completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,621 yards this season and had an 89.2 passer rating. He passed for 19 touchdowns and is, Emery said, “a quarterback we can win with.” He did, however, miss six games because of injury and not everyone was pleased to see him replace Josh McCown when he got healthy again. “I see improvement in his ball security, distribution to his targets and a transformation in his demeanor as a leader,” Emery said. In five seasons with the Bears, Cutler is 39-28 as a starter and has passed for 14,913 yards and 101 touchdowns, with 75 interceptions.
Cutler and the Bears had a chance to earn a playoff berth Sunday afternoon in a home game against the Green Bay Packers, but lost and finished 8-8. A big, new contract carries with it expectations that the team will win those games. “Jay doesn’t have to be better than [Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers,” Emery said. “Our team has to be better than the Green Bay Packers.”