The Chicago Bears made a splash on Thursday when they announced that they signed Jay Cutler to a seven-year contract, per Rich Campbell and Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. This ended months of speculation regarding whether or not they would re-sign the eight-year veteran or let him test free agency. Although Cutler is a talented passer, signing him to a lengthy deal was a grave mistake.
Let's remember that Cutler hasn't really won anything during his career in the NFL but, more than that, hasn't done a whole lot to make his team trust him in the long-term. His record as the Bears' starter stands at 39-28, which is less-than-promising from a man who just signed a hefty contract.
To put things in perspective, former Bears quarterback Rex Grossman had a better winning percentage than Cutler, and he is now the third-string quarterback in Washington. Go figure.
|Jay Cutler w/ Bears vs. Rex Grossman w/ Bears|
|Name||TDs||INTs||Games Played||Winning %|
|Pro Football Reference|
One might argue that Cutler has a better supporting cast than Grossman, so what gives? Especially after his individual success with the Denver Broncos, one would assume that he'd have a better record with the Bears than Not-So-Sexy Rexy.
Cutler missed a large portion of the 2013 season with injury and was massively outshone by his backup, Josh McCown. Although Cutler's track record is better than McCown's, the backup quarterback was on quite a hot streak, which was shut down by Chicago's big wigs when Cutler was ready to return.
|Josh McCown's 2013 stats vs. Jay Cutler's 2013 stats|
|Pro Football Reference|
According to @ESPNStatsInfo, since joining the Bears in 2009, Cutler has thrown an interception on 3.6 percent of his passes, the third-highest in the NFL.
In this, the final year of his original deal with the team, Cutler played in only 11 games and had just 2,621 yards passing with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Again, these are not the numbers you'd expect to see from a man who just got many millions richer.
The problem is not that the Bears re-signed him; it's that they re-signed him for seven years. There are no exact numbers yet, but according to Alex Marvez of FoxSports1, the deal figures to average around $18 million for the first three years.
With all the uncertainty around an essentially unproven Cutler, the Bears should've explored more options with him. While there's no guaranteeing he would've taken a lesser deal, Chicago surely could've been more economic about it.
Investing in Cutler for another seven years means that they believe he will be that valuable to them for almost a decade, when they likely should've been planning to draft their quarterback of the future and groom him behind Cutler for a few years before letting him take over.
Even franchising Cutler would've been a better, more economic decision, as the franchise tag for a quarterback is about $16 million.
Chicago is now indebted to Cutler for seven years, and there's no guarantee that the injury-prone quarterback will even last that long.