Entering contract year, Cutler under pressure

Entering contract year, Cutler under pressure
March 4, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Since joining the Bears, Jay Cutler has gotten used to playing under pressure, but it’s typically the type that comes from opposing defensive fronts. In the 2013 season the Bears quarterback will face a new and perhaps far greater pressure.

Unless the Bears have been fooling all of us, it's pretty clear they are prepared to make Cutler play all or most of the 2013 season before even considering discussions on a new long term contract.

Regardless of what happens, it’s the smart move by the Bears. Cutler's numbers in 2013 mirrored those of the Minnesota's Christian Ponder, a guy who Vikings fans wanted to run out of town last season. And during his four seasons with the Bears, Cutler has not proven he can have the impact of a Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or even a Joe Flacco.

The decision isn't about what the Bears would do without Cutler, it's about protecting the financial future of the team in a salary cap era where franchise quarterbacks are eating up huge chunks of the cap.

Flacco's new $120 million deal calls for $52 million guaranteed. That is not petty change and can't be thrown out unless a team is absolutely certain they have a QB for another decade.

To this point, has Cutler shown that? The 2013 season may be the most important of his career not just from a financial standpoint, but from a professional one as well. Cutler has to prove his critics wrong -- he has to prove he can not only win, but lead.

For Cutler the 2013 season will be filled with nothing but pressure from DAY ONE.