8:53 PM CST, January 2, 2014
Seven years. Seven! Years! That's the length of Jay Cutler's new contract with the Bears. Was it a good deal or bad deal for Chicago? Two RedEye contributors duke it out.
Smart Move, Bears
By Matt Lindner
Jay Cutler needs the Bears, but the Bears need Jay Cutler even more. Now the most polarizing athlete in the history of Chicago is ours to debate for another seven years.
In one fell swoop, Bears GM Phil Emery nearly broke the internet Thursday morning by announcing he had signed the greatest quarterback in franchise history—that's not a misprint—to a deal that'll keep him in town through 2020, giving the Bears stability at a position that has a history of turning over as often as the weather.
Like Cutler or not, this was absolutely the right move. Allow me to borrow a couple of cliches to make my point. While the grass tends to be greener on the other side, there's another old saying that's more applicable here, and that's "be careful what you wish for."
Think about it—a fan base that had grown weary of watching the likes of Caleb Hanie, Kordell Stewart, Chris Chandler and other impostors aimlessly sling incompletions and interceptions suddenly was too good for a QB who at least gave the team a fighting chance.
Cutler has the respect of this team. Letting him go would certainly have upset his main target, star receiver Brandon Marshall, a key component the past two seasons in a revitalized offense. Given what he's been able to do both on and off the field since he's been in town, keeping Marshall happy makes about as much sense as keeping Cutler happy.
Cutler's 1-9 record against the Packers is concerning, absolutely. But he's got a rocket for an arm and has shown flashes of brilliance during his tenure in orange and blue.
He's got chemistry with Marshall, and he'll have an offseason to get on the same page with emerging superstar Alshon Jeffery. More importantly, though, Cutler finally has coaches who know how to make the most of a man with his talents.
Those ingredients are more than enough to suggest that this union has as good a chance as any made at Halas Hall over the years to end in Happily Ever After.
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor. @mattlindner
A huge waste of money
By Jay St. Pierre
While the exact value of Jay Cutler's contract hasn't been released, ESPN reported it could be about $18 million a year. That's a lot of money, especially for someone who's played 16 games just once as a Bear.
Cutler missed five games this season and has missed 13 during the past five years. Compare that with the eight QBs who have recently signed monster contracts, and only Peyton Manning (one season) and Aaron Rodgers (seven games) have missed significant time over the past three years. Those guys have earned a slight pass, though, considering they've hoisted that Lombardi thing Cutler hasn't even sniffed.
The Bears are setting themselves up to pay a guy to sit on a bench sometime during the year. Hope that goes well.
In case you are still wearing your "Cutler for Prez" shirt, let me break something to you: Cutler is an average quarterback.
He ranked 18th in the league this season in yards per game, 13th in quarterback rating and 13th in completion percentage.
That's embarrassing considering the Bears also have two Pro Bowl-caliber wideouts, an above-average tight end and a good pass-catching running back. Cutler's yards per game ranked up there with Eli Manning's, Andrew Luck's and Matt Schaub's this season. Schaub missed six games after being benched, Manning threw 27 interceptions and Luck used screen passes and slants to dink and dunk his way to that figure.
Cutler's completion percentage is close to that of Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick. And his passer rating is around that of Andy Dalton and Alex Smith—not really $18 million kind of guys.
With so much money going Cutler's way, the future of GM Phil Emery now hinges on how well Cutler performs. Emery has done some good stuff since coming back to the Bears. He drafted Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long and Jon Bostic, restructured Julius Peppers' contract and hired Marc Trestman.
Considering Peppers still is one of the most overpaid, overrated athletes in the league and now Cutler is about to break the bank, the Bears just may be searching for a new GM—along with a new quarterback—in the next four or five years.
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