Following a Week-7 injury for Jay Cutler in a loss to the Redskins, many fans and even some media have been jumping to the conclusion that this means Cutler’s days are numbered as the Bears’ QB.
To this, I say B.S. Here’s why:
First of all, Cutler may not even be out as long as originally projected. His pal and frequent WR target Brandon Marshall thinks Cutler could return in two weeks. But even if he misses more time than that, he will still have an opportunity to show the Bears’ brass that he is worthy of a return engagement.
Yet even if a long-term contract extension isn’t in the offing, I would expect that Emery would apply the franchise tag to Cutler in order to keep him at the helm in 2014.
Sure, Emery would be committing about $19M to Cutler, but it’s only for one year. There would be no need to make that long-term commitment. This would also ensure that Cutler stays hungry, knowing his 2014 performance directly affects his salary going forward. Heck, they could even apply the tag again in 2015 if they were so inclined.
Todd Collins … Craig Krenzel … Jonathan Quinn … Shane Matthews … Cade McNown ...
But even if they wanted to replace Cutler after this season, who would they bring in? They could draft a QB in the first or second round, but the Bears will likely be picking somewhere in the middle to late first round, so I doubt they could nab the kind of QB who would be ready to step in as a starter day one.
Furthermore, a quick examination of the list of free agent QBs results in a whole lot of head scratching. Do the likes of a Josh Freeman, Rex Grossman, Chad Henne or Tarvaris Jackson excite you as a Bears fan?
I didn’t think so.
There are a lot of potentially serviceable backup QBs on that list, but not one name jumps out and grabs you as someone who even remotely has the talent of a Cutler.
Look, Trestman has spent time teaching the nuances of his offense to Cutler, and just as he seemed to be getting to graduation, he got hurt. That isn’t his fault, nor does it make him too injury prone to re-sign.
... Chad Hutchinson … Moses Moreno … Rick Mirer … Peter Tom Willis … Steve Stenstrom ...
It wasn’t the type of injury that affects a guy’s career, such as a shoulder or knee might be. He has a groin, and as painful as that might be, it isn’t likely to be a showstopper long-term.
Meanwhile, even if Josh McCown continues to perform well in the Trestman offense, would that be a large enough sample size to convince Bears’ management that he’s ready to step in as a full-time starter for next year? Probably not.
Recognizing that, what better option does Emery and Trestman have other than to bring back Cutler for another season? Then, if he does well and stays healthy, they can try to sign him to an extension.
One thing I would do, however, is to draft a QB to develop in case Cutler is not signed beyond 2014. Sure, they could apply the tag once again in 2015, but it would be better to have a contingency plan just in case.
Another reason to bring Cutler back is to see what he could accomplish in this offense given another season to master it. Plus, it’s not as if Cutler hasn’t been a decent QB up to now.
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Cutler has started 63 games in a Bears’ uniform. The team’s record in those games is 38-25. He has thrown for 13,950 yards, with 94 TDs and 70 INTs. Coming into the season, Cutler needed to throw 2,395 yards to become the Bears’ all-time leader in passing yards, a mark he still might reach.
He has already completed more passes that any QB in Bears’ history and owns the highest QB rating. He needs 43 more TDs to pass Sid Luckman, a mark he could reach by the end of 2014, health permitting.
And for those of you that don’t think Cutler is clutch, consider this: he owns the Bears’ all-time record for game winning drives.
Now, admittedly, the competition I am comparing him to is pretty damn weak, to say the least. But the point is, people forget all the years of pain the Bears went through trying to find a QB as good as Cutler.
Can his mistakes occasionally drive us nuts? Of course. Has his seemingly limitless talent overshadowed his production to this point, and can that be extremely frustrating? Again, a resounding “Yes!”
But the bottom line is that the Bears should only get rid of Jay Cutler if they feel they have a better alternative. And, at least for 2014, I don’t see one.
Look, he’s far from perfect. But he’s also far from Cade McNown.
Follow me on Twitter @BobWarja
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Filed under: Players