The injuries to Jay Cutler this season could not have come at a worse time for the Chicago Bears quarterback. Cutler is in the final year of his contract and this season was meant to go a long way in the quarterback securing a long-term deal with the Bears.
When Cutler has been on the field this season, there is no question that the quarterback’s play has been deserving of a contract extension. The problem is that Cutler has been plagued by a groin injury and high ankle sprain that has forced the quarterback to miss three games. That number will grow to four when Josh McCown starts for the Bears on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
The value of Cutler’s next contract with the Bears has taken a hit because of the injuries. Gone is the talk that Cutler’s next contract could mirror the ones handed out to Joe Flacco or Tony Romo and in are the talks that the Bears may franchise the quarterback after the season.
For the 2014 season, the projected rate of franchise tagging a quarterback is expected to be $16.2 million. That would be a hefty increase in pay for Cutler, who is earning $8.47 million this season. The franchise tag would figure to benefit Cutler and the Bears in terms of the quarterback situation. The tag would allow Cutler one more season to prove that he is worth a long-term investment from the Bears. The downside is the $16.2 million cap hit may limit what the Bears will be able to do in the off-season.
For his part, Cutler wouldn’t mind being tagged.
“I’m not gonna take anything personally,” Cutler said. “If they want to franchise me, I’m gonna feel good about the situation we’re in. We’re gonna be in our second year of the offense with these guys. We’re gonna be better. I’m gonna be better. So it’s not personal. It’s business.” -Jay Cutler, ESPN Chicago
By all accounts, neither side of the Cutler-Bears marriage wants a divorce. Cutler indicated on several occasions during his Monday radio show that he plans to be with the Bears for the long-term.
Cutler expressed a desire to “stay in Chicago,” saying he’d “be surprised if they kind of broke up the group that we have on offense. Me and [wife] Kristin [Cavallari] have talked about it. I’ve talked about it with my agent [Bus Cook]. Some of the guys on the team, we’ve talked about it. So the longer we can stay together as a group, the better we’re gonna be.” -Cutler, ESPN Chicago
In terms of Cutler and his contract status, many fans are looking for things that simply aren’t there. There is no friction between Cutler and the Bears. Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman stand in unison, and with that being the case, general manager Phil Emery is not going to break that up.