Jay Cutler’s recently concluded new contract could keep him throwing passes for the Bears for another seven seasons for a max of $126.7 million. Could.
The Bears didn’t want to strap their salary cap with a franchise-tag amount in excess of $16 million and have only one year to show for it. Cutler wanted more than $16 million guaranteed money out of this offseason.
As outlined by Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com, Cutler got in effect three franchise-tag years guaranteed: $54 million for three years, spaced out with base salaries of $22.5 million in 2014, $15.5 million in 2015 and $16 million in 2016. The Bears got a de facto option to be out of the deal at that point without lingering cap hits from a prorated signing bonus. The contract then has lower base salaries with Cutler earning a reported $156,250 per game on top of those salaries – a potential win-win situation.
A significant positive for the Bears is that the salary cap has been projected to remain pretty static until 2017. At that time Cutler’s salaries dip as the cap allows the Bears increasing financial firepower with what they expect to be a franchise quarterback in place. Finance chief Cliff Stein has made a practice of contract design that does not strangle the Bears in the later years of a deal and Cutler's sets up precisely that way.