The end to the Jay Cutler era in Chicago is coming to a quiet close, with Cutler released shortly after the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday (follow all the action in our live blog here), the Bears announced on Thursday. 

It was sort of an “as expected” move. Although Cutler’s contract didn’t make keeping him totally unreasonable from the Bears standpoint, they’ve already decided to sign to-be free agent quarterback Mike Glennon, according to multiple reports, giving Glennon a deal worth $14.5 million per year over three years

“I appreciate Jay’s professionalism throughout this process and throughout my two years with him here in Chicago,” Bears GM Ryan Pace said in a statement. “I will always appreciate his toughness and respect his accomplishments on the field with the Bears. He leaves here holding nearly every passing record with this storied franchise and I wish him nothing but the best going forward.”

Reports indicated that the Bears tried to trade Cutler ahead of the start of the league year, but that wasn’t going to happen in this market.

Multiple reports indicate the only team interested in Cutler’s services at this point is the New York Jets. What a delightful marriage Cutler and that media market would make. 

It’s easy to forget just how long Cutler has been in Chicago. He was drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, perceived as the next quarterback of the long haul for Mike Shanahan. But after Shanahan was fired and replaced by Josh McDaniels, Cutler was sent packing to Chicago for a pile of picks, including multiple first-round selections.

The Bears gave up Kyle Orton and the 2009 first-round pick, a 2010 first-round pick and a 2009 third-round pick. 

In his eight years with the Bears, Cutler averaged 13 starts per year, just under 3,000 passing yards per season, 19 touchdowns per year and 14 interceptions. He was constantly working with a variety of head coaches and offensive coordinators. 

“Jay was always one of the biggest competitors on our roster,” Bears coach John Fox said. “He battled every day to get better, both himself and his teammates. He was a team guy who would offer anything he could to help the Bears. Wherever his career may take him next, I wish him nothing but success.”

Despite a sometimes questionable public perception, most of the people who played with Cutler said they loved him. (Kyle Long, an offensive lineman in front of Cutler, constantly praises his now former teammate.)

The future for Cutler will be interesting. He’s going to get some attention and he can certainly keep playing, but if the Jets are the only option, he might have to take a long, hard look at that job. Getting paid millions to play quarterback is nice, but getting harassed in the New York media market while quarterbacking a rebuilding team doesn’t sound like that appetizing of an opportunity.