Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is about to enter the last year of his contract, and since he'll earn close to $9 million this year, he seems OK for now with the lack of an extension. As CBSSports.com's Larry Hartstein wrote in March, “It makes sense to see how Cutler fares under [new coach Marc] Trestman and new [offensive] coordinator Aaron Kromer before giving him a long-term deal.”
Sure it does, and as Trestman said in February, “I haven't discussed any of that with Jay.”
But according to the Chicago Tribune, there had been talk about a Cutler extension before the Bears hired Trestman to replace the fired Lovie Smith.
In fact, the Bears had talked about paying Cutler an average of $15 million per season, and since that might be the going rate to franchise-tag a quarterback in 2014, the team instead could put off a long-term decision on Cutler and tag him next offseason.
But it stands to reason that Chicago's decision to pay Cutler (or to even keep him for another year) will be based largely on how he performs in Trestman's new offense in 2013.
As I wrote in the team's training camp preview, the Bears have upgraded what had been a previously-shoddy offensive line that continually got Cutler beaten up. The team also has given Cutler a potentially-dangerous tight end in Martellus Bennett. So, Cutler has more weapons for 2013 than in previous seasons.
If Cutler can't produce, it seems unlikely Chicago will want to invest in him long term, even if the Bears reportedly had discussed doing exactly that before Trestman got to town.
Luckily, though, there was some good news Tuesday for the always-charismatic Cutler. It's doubtful, though, Cutler's good fortune will make Henry Melton feel any better about not getting a long-term deal.