On Wednesday, at his introductory press conference ahead of training camp, Bears general manager Phil Emery nipped in the bud any notion that new deals would get done during the season.
“I will tell you that where we're at with our current salary cap and the room that we have in our cap in our efforts to put together a championship team in 2013, I do not anticipate that we will do any extensions of contracts during this season,” Emery said in his introductory remarks before the start of Bears training camp.
“All those will occur, and the Bears that it will occur with will happen in 2014 and not during the 2013 season.”
That includes a bevy of names playing on one-year deals, including quarterback Jay Cutler, linebackers James Anderson and DJ Williams, center Robert Garza, safety Major Wright, and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.
Cutler will make a base salary of $8.47 million in 2013, but his future with the team will be tied to how he performs this season, the first under coach Marc Trestman. Last week, the Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure reported that the team had previously discussed giving Cutler a long-term deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million per season, but that was before Trestman replaced Lovie Smith.
Another important player in the last year of his contract: Kicker Robbie Gould, who thinks Emery would be wise to extend some of the key cogs on the Bears' roster.
“If they were smart they would try to get their core group of players and re-sign them before the end of the year and try to make it work, but a lot of us are sitting in a great position,” Gould said. “You might see a lot of guys exit the Bears, [so] this year has to be pretty special, because if it doesn't go as well as planned I can see them completely rebuilding. Or they might find a couple guys they think is their core group and get rid of some of the other higher-paid guys.”
Fair point, although we suspect that Gould's feelings on the matter won't have any bearing on what Emery ultimately decides to do. In the meantime, the general manager has only laudatory things to say about Cutler.
"The Jay that I've seen since I've been here has always been very focused on the practice field," Emery said Wednesday, via the team's website. "I see him involve himself more with all of our players, our younger players, taking players to the side. "I see a guy that was fully dialed in; no one worked harder during the strength and conditioning aspect of our offseason. So I see a guy that's very committed to improving his individual skills and to interact with the players on the team and to provide leadership and help us attain our goals, which is to win championships."
For his part, Cutler seems unconcerned about having to wait to negotiate a new deal.
"That's fine with me," Cutler said. "I haven't really talked about any of my contracts in my career and I'm not really going to start now. We'll play it out, and however it's supposed to go, it's going to work out.
"It doesn't really matter what year you are in your contract. 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."