Just before Marc Trestman told reporters that Jay Cutler will be named the Bears starter if he's medically cleared on Wednesday, a report circulated that the Bears will "likely" let Cutler walk in the offseason.
Unless, according to Jason Cole of the National Football Post, Cutler is willing to take a "team-friendly deal." Timing is everything.
“[The Bears] believe in Trestman after what they've seen from [backup quarterback Josh] McCown," a source told Cole. "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."
This isn't an unreasonable stance, really. I argued for just that after Josh McCown's performance Monday night. The simple economics say that if Trestman can coach up McCown and the Bears can find a future franchise quarterback for cheap in the draft, they're better off than they would be paying Cutler $20 million.
Chicago, um, probably knows this. Phil Emery is a smart dude and he managed to rebuild the Bears offense in impressively fast fashion.
They'd love nothing more than for Cutler to take a team-friendly deal and hang around. But they also might not be confident enough in the McCown/draft pick combo to roll the dice on Cutler -- who is good friends with Marshall, the team's top wideout -- walking away for nothing.
Cutler would make bank in the open market. He'll be 31 by the time 2014 kicks off, but he's a "franchise quarterback" and would easily be the top guy available in free agency. Finding a taker for his physical talents wouldn't be hard.