Unless quarterback Jay Cutler is willing to take a club-friendly deal on his next contract, the Chicago Bears are likely to let Cutler become a free agent in the offseason, a source said Wednesday. The Bears would do that even at the risk of losing him.
Cole notes that Cutler could seek a deal "in the range of $20 million a year". And Cole's source has the explanation you'd expect as to why the Bears could be okay with moving on without Cutler (especially if Cutler wants a high-dollar amount):
“(The Bears) believe in (coach Marc) Trestman after what they’ve seen from (backup quarterback Josh) McCown,” the source said. “Between his system and the two big receivers (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery), you have a system where a quarterback can flourish. I don’t know if McCown is going to be the starter (next season), but I think the team would be fine letting Cutler test the market and then go draft someone if he left.”
As we shared with you last week, Bears general manager Phil Emery made it clear in a Q&A with ChicagoBears.Com readers that the franchise tag is a situation the organization would definitely prefer to avoid with Cutler. And when it comes to a long-term deal, there are likely be multiple suitors out there prepared to offer Cutler a highly expensive deal as Cole alluded to.
Keep in mind that, along with Cutler, the Bears have a ton of their own players set to be free agents this upcoming offseason. Among the long list of players are cornerback Charles Tillman, cornerback Tim Jennings, defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive lineman Corey Wootton, kicker Robbie Gould, kick/punt returner Devin Hester, guard Matt Slauson, center Roberto Garza, linebacker James Anderson, linebacker D.J. Williams, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, and special teams ace Blake Costanzo.
Oh, and Josh McCown is set to be a free agent as well.
In a perfect world, the Bears are able to keep Cutler and McCown beyond 2013. But, with all of the Bears' own upcoming free agents, and with how significantly (!) the defense needs a rehaul, keeping both quarterbacks could prove to be quite difficult.
I, for one, am not envious of Emery's job in the coming months.
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