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Is Jay Cutler Really the Answer for the Chicago Bears?

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass against the San Diego Chargers during the NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 28, 2008 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 52--21.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IApril 1, 2009

As everyone knows by now, the Denver Broncos have made it clear that Jay Cutler will not be their quarterback for the 2009 NFL season.  By making the announcement, the Broncos have effectively lowered their asking price for Cutler by taking away any leverage they once had.  This presents a number of teams with the rare opportunity to acquire a young Pro Bowl quarterback in the prime of his career. 

If you're a Bears fan, this should come as great news, right?  Quarterback is the one position the Bears have been consistently pathetic at since punky No. 9 left town after leading us to the promised land. 

You're probably thinking that the Bears should make every effort to acquire Cutler from Denver, as a proven QB like this does not come around very often.  While the second part of that sentence is true, I'd still say not so fast, Bears fans.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that Jay Cutler would not be an upgrade over Kyle Orton.  He absolutely would be.  No question.  But part of the reason that Jay Cutler has become a Pro Bowl quarterback is because of a certain pass catching machine named Brandon Marshall

Over the past two seasons, Marshall has averaged 103 catches for 1,295 yards and 6.5 touchdowns.  The Bears' leading receiver last year was running back Matt Forte with 64 catches, and the leading man in terms of yards was Devin Hester with 665.  Greg Olsen led the Bears with five touchdowns.

The Bears will (hopefully) look to the draft for help at the wide receiver position.  But in order to trade for Cutler, Denver will be expecting the Bears' first round pick (No. 18 overall), which many pundits and experts believe the Bears currently plan to use on a wide receiver. 

While it is true that there is plenty of talent available in the later rounds of the draft, I'm not optimistic based on GM Jerry Angelo's history of drafting offensive players.  Earl Bennett is a prime example.  How does a third-round pick not break into one of the worst wide receiving corps in NFL history?

Assuming the Bears don't have their first round pick, the WR corps next year would appear to be something along the lines of Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis, and a day two draft pick. So while Cutler is a very good quarterback, it cannot be expected that he will replicate his Pro Bowl numbers while playing for the Bears throwing to this group of guys. 

Now, if the Bears can somehow get Cutler without trading their first round pick, forget everything I just said.  If the Bears go out and sign free agent wideout Torry Holt and/or find a way to move up in the second round of the draft to grab Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina or Kenny Britt of Rutgers, my stance might change.  But until then, I'm not sure if Jay Cutler is the answer.

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