It took GM Phil Emery less than a week to lock up his franchise quarterback to a seven-year extension keeping him away from pending unrestricted free agency. Jay Cutler will make an average of at least $17.6 million per year over the length of the contract while also being guaranteed $50 Million. Other contracts on par with this sort of deal are known starters including Matt Stafford, Phillip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. The difference between Cutler’s former and new contract is a $3 million annual boost in base salary.
By Cutler’s standards it was a pretty good year with some shining moments and some better off forgotten. His game on Sunday featured the hail-mary interception but also two touchdowns and a QB Rating of 103.8, which capped off his best season with a rating of 89.2. He had a great game on the road in Pittsburgh as well as at home against the Giants and Saints in back-to-back weeks.
The Cutler issue is his inconsistent health (well, and the tendency to spot opponents possessions at the beginning of games). He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for a full 16-game schedule since 2009. This year he missed five games and last year he missed two of the most important games of the season that dramatically altered the Bears’ playoff chances. He’ll be 31 at the start of next season and will complete this deal at age 38. With the injuries that he’s already endured and the amount of games missed so far, it’s tough to look at the length of this deal and see full value over later years. A 37-year old Jay Cutler is going to be very tough to watch as he increasingly wobbles in the pocket or is a no-show. Hopefully by that point the replacement will already be found. On the brighter side, a full 16-game schedule with an ever-improving offensive line and a wide-receiver corps that’s one of the best in the league, offers a healthy Cutler the possibility of leading the Bears to a few divisional crowns.
The Bears also announced the signings of CB Tim Jennings and G Matt Slauson (each to four-year deals). This is in addition to the previous signings of K Robbie Gould and FB Tony Fiammetta.