Bears have reportedly begun to actively search for a trade partner for Jay Cutler

In perhaps the least surprising news you’ll hear this offseason -- at least until free agency really gets going -- the Bears are looking to move on from quarterback Jay Cutler. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reports that the team has actively started seeking a trade partner for the 2006 first-round pick, who began his career in Denver before getting traded to Chicago before the 2009 season.

Cutler, who signed a seven-year, $126.7 million deal in 2014, still has four years left on his contract, but a divorce between quarterback and club has been a long time coming, and there’s no way he sees that money. However, that doesn’t mean he can be traded, no questions asked.

Darlington offers some context:

There’s also this:

Cutler played in just five games last season because of injury, but in 2015, he ranked ninth in value per play among all quarterbacks, according to Football Outsiders, which was better than Matthew Stafford and league MVP Cam Newton. But that was the anomaly for Cutler, who regularly put up replacement-level numbers during his Chicago career.

Also not helping: reports last November that the Bears’ locker room had given up on Cutler, though Kyle Long said in January that he “really enjoyed playing with Jay.”

Long added: “He’s a great guy. I think people are clueless about football and a lot of people want to act like they know what they’re talking about, and we let them do that. Jay just continues to be a great teammate. So I’ve really enjoyed playing with Jay. He’s a good friend of mine.”

However his teammates feel about him, Cutler will almost certainly be somewhere else in the coming months. Where, though? CBSSports.com’s Sean Wagner-McGough wrote late last season that four teams made sense for Cutler: The Dolphins, where Adam Gase -- the man who got the most out of Cutler when they were together in ‘15 -- is now the coach; the Cardinals, where 36-year-old Carson Palmer is coming off a down season; the Jaguars, who remain committed to Blake Bortles, though that may have more to do with a lack of options than anything else; and the Jets, an outfit that is moving on from both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith.

Of course, all this is moot if Cutler decides he’s had enough and walks away from the game altogether. And frankly, we wouldn’t blame him.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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