Any uncertainty regarding the future of Jay Cutler in Chicago has been put to rest.
According to Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com, general manager Phil Emery announced Thursday that the team and Cutler have agreed to a seven-year deal that will keep the quarterback in Chicago through the 2020 season.
In doing so, they also made a statement about the direction of their franchise.
The 7-yr length of Jay Cutler's deal w Bears is to help salary-cap; guaranteed money is the key. Pay little attn to total amount of $.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 2, 2014
Due to a torn groin muscle, Cutler missed five games this season. His replacement, journeyman backup quarterback Josh McCown, excelled in Cutler's absence. The 34-year old gunslinger shocked the world by throwing for 13 touchdowns, one interception and compiling 1,829 yards in the process.
While McCown was impressive in his tenure as the Bears' starter under center, trusting him over a consistent product in Cutler just isn't logical for Chicago going forward.
Coming into this season, McCown had only once thrown for more than 2,000 yards or register a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio.
With that in mind, letting Cutler walk in favor of McCown, whose 2013 season can be chalked up as an aberration, would have been detrimental to a team with such a talented roster.
The hardest thing to do in the NFL is find a successful quarterback worthy of taking a team to the Super Bowl. The Bears have that in Cutler.
He is 39-28 as the Bears' starting quarterback and also led them to the NFC Championship Game in 2011, when a sprain to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his knee forced Cutler to miss the second half. The Green Bay Packers prevailed and eventually won the Super Bowl that year.
A quarterback can't be successful on his own. Luckily for Cutler, his arsenal of weapons might be the best in the league.
With two big, dominant receivers on the outside in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, and a do-it-all running back in Matt Forte, Cutler doesn't have to be the best pure passer in the NFL for the Bears to be successful. He just has to put the ball in the air and let his playmakers do the rest.
At the age of 30, Cutler is still young enough for a team to go all in with. Though a seven-year deal is a long time to commit to one player, the decision to retain Cutler was a smart one by Emery and Chicago.
All statistics courtesy of NFL. com.