Bears face big decisions on several key players

New coaching staff, schemes will determine futures of Cutler, Urlacher, Peppers and others

Most of the players on the Bears roster were acquired by Jerry Angelo to be coached by Lovie Smith. Now that neither is part of the organization anymore, many of those players might not be feeling quite as secure.

The fates of many familiar faces in the locker room will be determined by the man general manager Phil Emery chooses as his head coach and the systems that coach implements.

Here are a dozen key Bears whose futures could be most affected by the changes afoot:

Jay Cutler

There is little doubt Cutler will be the Bears' quarterback in 2013. The issue is whether they will commit to him beyond 2013.

Cutler's contract has one season left at a salary of $8.47 million. Emery has publicly endorsed Cutler, calling him the franchise quarterback the team wants to build around. But he also allowed that the new coach will need to see Cutler the same way.

The Bears might try to extend Cutler's contract this offseason. Doing so would limit what they could do in terms of signing other free agents. They also could decide to let him play out his contract and see how they feel about him after next season.

Determining Cutler's value at this point could be difficult. There has been talk of Cutler being paid like the upper-

echelon quarterbacks in the league, with an average annual salary of $16 million or more. But Cutler's play in 2012 did not justify that kind of contract.

Playing behind a leaky offensive line and throwing to inconsistent receivers other than Brandon Marshall, Cutler finished 20th in the NFL in passer rating (81.3), 21st in completion percentage (58.8), 16th in yards per attempt (6.99) and 26th in yards per game (202). Moreover, he directed an offense that was completely impotent at critical points.

Cutler developed a habit of slow starts and strong finishes. He had a passer rating of 55.1 in the first quarter and 114.7 in the fourth, according to STATS. But he was frequently most effective after the defense had given the Bears a comfortable lead and the pressure was off.

Where Cutler has improved is in avoiding losing the game. But on the flip side, Cutler was arguably the primary reason for only one victory all season — the opener against the Colts.

He performed above average by my grading scale in eight of his 15 starts and average or below in seven. He saved his worst performances for the best opponents. His combined passer rating in two games against the Packers and one game against the Texans was 33.8.

Jason Campbell

He signed a one-year deal last offseason and will become a free agent March 12 if the Bears do not re-sign him before then.

Campbell was one of the highest-paid No. 2 quarterbacks in the league this season with a salary of $1.4 million. He started only one game and was awful in the loss to the 49ers. The highlight of the season for Campbell was rallying the Bears to a late touchdown in a December loss at Minnesota.

The Bears might determine they want another style of quarterback as their backup, or they might decide to go with a younger player. Campbell would like a chance to be a starter but is not likely to get one.

Kellen Davis

Emery made it clear he was not pleased with the production at tight end. Anyone who watched the Bears could see Davis struggled in the passing game. He caught only 19 of the 44 passes thrown to him and dropped six.

The Bears will be in the market for a starting tight end to replace Davis, who is due to earn $2.4 million next season. He could be cut before the start of free agency.