On Forecasting Jay Cutler’s Future

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune speculates on the future contract talks involving quarterback Jay Cutler:

“The general manager has intimated if the club uses the franchise tag to secure Cutler from reaching the open market, it will be to buy time to complete a multi-year contract because the one-year hit of $16 million against the salary cap and the prospect of facing the same situation again in 2015 isn’t appealing.

“That does not mean a long-term contract will not average $16 million per season — or possibly more — for Cutler. The quarterbacks of the NFC clubs doing their best to back right out of the playoff race might see to that. All Cutler’s agent, Bus Cook, has to do is point to the flimsy postseason resumes of the Lions’ Matthew Stafford and the Cowboys’ Tony Romo and ask what differentiates them from his client? Not much.

“Extensions for Stafford and Romo for the season were great developments for Cutler. Both were responsible for bad interceptions at the end of losses last weekend that greatly damaged the playoff hopes of their respective teams.”

“Romo’s contract, which was added six years, included $55 million guaranteed with an average annual salary of $18 million and netted him $28.5 million in the first year of the deal with $54 million paid over the first three years. Romo is 1-3 in four playoff starts with his last appearance after the 2009 season. Cook would be foolish not to use that as a starting point for contract talks.”

And perhaps the Bears would be fools to repeat the costly mistakes that other franchises have committed.  Just an alternative thought…

Cutler is a wonderful athletic talent.  And, yes, the market will set his value, especially if the Bears don’t franchise him.  But I’m not so sure that the league isn’t getting a bit smarter about how they spend their cash and cap.  The free agent market last year wasn’t exactly a great place to be for mediocre to better than average free agents, the class I’d put Cutler in.  I’m by no means convinced that Cutler’s value outside of Chicago is that high.  It will be interesting if the Bears find ourselves in a position to find out.

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