BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Jay Cutler is aware quarterbacks are cashing in around the NFL. He also realizes he’ll have to wait for his big payday.
Chicago general manager Phil Emery all but ruled out extensions this season for players with expiring contracts, and Cutler insists he’s OK with that.
The same goes for kicker Robbie Gould and cornerback Tim Jennings, who are part of a long list of Bears whose deals are up at the end of the year.
In more ways than one, the stakes are soaring. The Bears have a new coach in Marc Trestman to go with a GM in his second season, and a big chunk of the locker room could be gone if they miss the playoffs again.
Yeah. I mean, new coaches, there’s a lot of things happening, Cutler said Thursday. There’s a lot of change. It doesn’t really matter what year you are in your contract, I don’t think, you’ve got to still go out and prove yourself. You’ve got to play each and every week. You’ve got to be consistent and you’ve got to sustain that the whole season. Nothing’s really changed on that part.
One thing that could change, though, is his future as the franchise’s quarterback. That appears to be up in the air at the moment.
A big season could lead to a big financial windfall from the Bears – or another team. If he struggles, Chicago could make a clean split.
Where it gets murky is if Cutler continues to produce the way he has since he arrived from Denver in 2009 and delivers another middle-of-the-road season. Then the Bears would have a decision to make: Do they throw big money at a talented quarterback who hasn’t lived up to expectations or do they let him walk?
And they’ll have to make it against a backdrop that includes some big deals for QBs.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco played through an expiring contract last season and led the Ravens to the championship, winning the Super Bowl MVP. His reward? A $120.1 million contract that was, at the time, the richest in NFL history. Matthew Stafford got a $53 million, three-year extension from Detroit. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan just signed a five-year extension for $103.75 million, with $59 million guaranteed.
There’s some big contracts going around, so I mean if you win and produce, you’re going to get paid, Cutler said.
It’s not just him, though.
Gould, Jennings, Charles Tillman, Devin Hester, Henry Melton, Major Wright, Corey Wootton and Roberto Garza are among the regulars with expiring deals.
Gould, coming off a season-ending calf injury, insisted Thursday that he is not angry with Emery. He said his agent approached the Bears about two weeks ago about a possible extension but was told the team was not in position to negotiate because of limited cap space.
Jennings, coming off a Pro Bowl season, said the fact that his contract is up gives him a little extra motivation. He also said he wasn’t disappointed by Emery’s comment.
Note: The Bears signed veteran defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson to a one-year contract with defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis deciding to retire. Ellis, a first-round pick by New Orleans in 2008, played five seasons with the Saints before signing a one-year deal with Chicago on July 12.