BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Jay Cutler wouldn’t have minded a mega-contract as a wedding present from the Bears.
“It was not in my wedding gift,” Cutler said Wednesday night on arriving for his fifth Bears training camp. He and Kristin Cavallari were married in June, so “maybe we haven’t gotten it yet, I don’t know,” he added, laughing. “You’ve got a year to give a gift, right? Maybe he’s holding onto to it.”
GM Phil Emery hasn’t told him the check’s in the mail. In fact, just the opposite: Emery stated earlier in the day that no contract extensions would be forthcoming until after this season.
Cutler insisted that will not change how he approaches his final year under the extension he signed after coming to the Bears in 2009.
“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.”
The Bears and he did not discuss an extension last offseason, he said.
Risks on both sides
The Bears may have been able to lock Cutler up with a package in the range of $15 million per season, below the elite tier of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and below the next tier of Matthew Stafford, who just signed an extension with the Detroit Lions for $18 million per season. Stafford is 25 to Cutler’s 30 and has been to as many postseasons (one) in four seasons as Cutler has in seven.
Flacco played out his contract with the Baltimore Ravens, took them to the Super Bowl and won. That was worth a $120-million deal for the five-year veteran who has never missed the playoffs since being drafted out of Delaware.
“There’s some big contracts going around,” Cutler said, “so, I mean, if you win and produce, you’re going to get paid. “
An epic year for Cutler likely boosts him up a tier and costs the Bears more than a 2013-offseason deal might have. Emery said that would be a nice problem for the Bears to have.
The risks for Cutler are there as well, apart even from performance. He has missed games with concussions in 2010 and 2012 and six games with a fractured hand in 2011. His offensive line has been upgraded but even elite quarterbacks are sacked and hit.
Multiple indicators suggest that the Bears are prepared to go into 2014 with Cutler in some iteration, whether contract extension or franchise tag. They did not draft a quarterback to begin developing. They said they were satisfied with a depth chart of Cutler-Josh McCown-Matt Blanchard. They are not taking a fourth quarterback to training camp in order to give maximum reps to Cutler as he works into the Marc Trestman offense.
And they clearly are pleased with the apparent maturing of Cutler as a teammate at age 30, married and with a first baby.
“I see him involve himself more with all of our players, our younger players, taking players to the side,” Emery said. “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 Cutler, “I think there’s pressure before every season to go out there,” he said. “Everyone feels good about the spot they’re in with the start of the year. Obviously, with a new coach there’s a lot to learn on our part. But there’s a lot of room to be positive and to think we’re going to have a good season.”