Bears lock up trio of players, including Jay Cutler

Bears lock up trio of players, including Jay Cutler
January 2, 2014, 9:45 am
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Tony Andracki

The Bears wasted no time in locking up core players for the future.

GM Phil Emery kicked off Thursday's press conference by announcing deals for quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings and left guard Matt Slauson.

Cutler's deal is for seven years, taking him through the 2020 season in Chicago, while Jennings and Slauson's deal each totaled four years.

Cutler's future has been a topic of discussion all season, and the enigmatic quarterback said after the Bears' loss Sunday he and the front office were discussing a deal, prompting speculation that they could reach a compromise this week. Brandon Marshall, Cutler's agent and No. 1 fan, was confident Sunday in saying Cutler would return to Chicago.

Emery credited Cutler with having his best season as a pro in 2013, as a leader and as a teammate, despite missing five-plus games to injury.

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"He's a demonstrated winner with the Bears and showed he can be a key player in helping us win games," Emery said.

Jennings was initially considered a longshot at returning to the Bears, especially when former head coach Lovie Smith took a job in Tampa Bay, but his four-year deal helps anchor the Bears' secondary.

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"Those are the types of players who make us better, who make a difference," Emery said.

Slauson signed a one-year deal before the 2013 season and graded out as the Bears' top lineman while starting all 16 games. Emery said Slauson was exactly the type of guard they were looking for.

Cutler, Jennings and Slauson join kicker Robbie Gould and fullback Tony Fiammetta among those players who have been locked up for the future over the past couple weeks.

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"These signings put us on a road map to move forward to winning a championship," Emery said.