Bears GM Phil Emery always seemed favorably disposed toward Jay Cutler as the quarterback around whom a team and franchise could be built. He and the Bears didn’t rush to extend Cutler before last season, however, and incoming coach Marc Trestman and his staff were accorded time to make their own assessments. The result was Cutler’s massive ($126 million, $54 million guaranteed) contract extension unveiled immediately after the season.
But one game in particular late last season removed all doubt.
ESPN senior scribe and friend Jim Trotter came to Bourbonnais on his way to an excellent overall story on “why non-elite quarterbacks get elite contracts”, looking at the likes of Cutler, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo and a couple of others in particular who got gaudy contracts without taking their teams to the gaudy heights that a Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and even Joe Flacco have.
What JT pinpointed in his tale was that Cutler overcoming a pick-six and leading the Bears back for a win against a good Cleveland Browns defense was the clincher for the Bears’ take on Cutler.
Now, that also happened to be the last game Cutler and the Bears won, leaving them tantalizingly short of the playoffs. But that’s part of interesting conundrum facing teams, and the decision involves a lot more than just a win here or there.