General Manager Phil Emery dialed down and effectively eliminated one of the major story lines of the 2013 season when he said on Wednesday that there will not be in-season contract extensions done by the Bears, and that includes quarterback Jay Cutler.
“I will tell you that where we’re at with our current salary cap and the room that we have in our cap in our efforts to put together a championship team in 2013, I do not anticipate that we will do any extensions of contracts during this season,” Emery said in his introductory remarks before the start of Bears training camp.
“All those will occur, and the Bears that it will occur with will happen in 2014 and not during the 2013 season.”
The Bears have numerous players on one-year contracts, including current starters signed last offseason — linebackers James Anderson and D.J. Williams — as well as more than a few veterans who make up the core of the current team — Cutler, center Roberto Garza, safety Major Wright and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton also is on a one-year deal after signing the Bears’ franchise tag for a guaranteed $8.45 million and the two sides being unable to agree to a long-term deal prior to July 15.
Part of the reason for the proliferation of one-year deals for veterans throughout the offseason around the entire league was a decline in the salary cap. The situation is likely to continue through the 2016 season based on cap projections.
The Bears will go forward with Cutler and Josh McCown 1-2 on the quarterback depth chart. McCown signed a one-year deal to return after last season and has an excellent relationship with Cutler, and the Bears are not actively looking for another No. 2 at this point.
“In terms of all of our positions, we’re always consistently and constantly looking to improve our roster, but I will say that I like Josh,” Emery said. “Josh adds a lot to our team. Josh has a lot of starting experience — 33 starts in the league. He’s our No. 2 quarterback and he will be moving forward.”