Could the Bears truly consider moving on from Jay Cutler after this season?
Michael Silver of NFL.com hears that scenario may be possible.
The Bears have known all along they would face a tough decision at the end of the season regarding their quarterback. This groin injury to Cutler potentially makes that decision even tougher. The hope is Cutler is able to return this season, giving the Bears a chance to further analyze his development under head coach Marc Trestman.
I have thought all along that Trestman's arrival was somewhat designed to develop Cutler into the franchise quarterback many think he still could be. However, some around the league feel Trestman's QB developmental abilities combined with his passer friendly offense could lend itself to a different type of signal caller alltogether.
I'm starting to see that possibility. Look around the league and see all the young QBs starting. Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Andrew Luck all took their teams to the playoffs last year as rookies. I could see Trestman finding someone in this upcoming draft and getting him ready in a hurry. Development is fast and furious these days. I trust this staff could pull it off.
Do the Bears need to pay $18 million to a quarterback that is on the wrong side of 30 and still has his growing pains? Commiting long term to Cutler would be a huge gamble and not likely to happen after this season. Super Bowl winners Eli Manning and Joe Flacco recently signed $100 million deals that don't look so good at the moment. Silver points out that Trestman's offense hummed under the much less gifted Rich Gannon.
Trestman, who was the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator during Gannon's MVP season in 2002 and won a pair of Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League with Anthony Calvillo running the Montreal Alouettes' attack, might not place as much of a premium on arm strength as some of his peers.
"Think about it -- he had his greatest success with Rich Gannon, who was smart and moved well but wasn't anybody's idea of a big thrower," said one source familiar with the Bears' situation. "If you're him, do you want to spend $20 million a year on Cutler, who might not be the best fit, or do you want to find someone you can mold who's efficient? And if you think about how deep this (next) draft class might be, he can identify his guy and get him relatively cheap for the next few years."
I feel the Bears will still lean towards franchising Cutler at the end of the season, and giving it one more year to see what they truly have. Either way Phil Emery goes with this, I would wage heavily the Bears will be looking for their next quarterback in the upcoming draft.
If there is anything to learn from Josh McCown's performance this past Sunday, it's that we can believe in this revamped offense and it's weapons. The offense may ultimately just need someone to distribute the ball into the playmakers' hands. It is a shame Cutler had to endure this injury after there were some real signs of progression.
Now we may get some indication if the offense can progress without him.
If it does, that may answer the original question.
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