Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
If you want to win in the NFL, it starts and ends with the quarterback. Nothing could have been realistically addressed in the offseason before the Bears locked up Jay Cutler.
Cutler got $54 million guaranteed and $126 million over seven years. This kept the best free-agent quarterback off the market and allowed the Bears to shift their focus toward more pressing needs.
A happy Cutler in a second season in Marc Trestman's offense brings a wealth of promise and expectations. He will now be forced to live up to the big money but has the weapons around him to do so.
Josh McCown wasn't a long-term answer and there just wasn't any other quarterback on the market with Cutler's capability. The options in the draft are not as impressive, and this team is built to win now. Waiting for a kid to develop just wasn't an option.
If the Bears need to upgrade the roster over the years, they can shift some of Cutler's annual salary into a signing bonus. This takes money off the cap, allowing the team to use it on other positions.
Should Cutler not perform well, the team can part ways with him after the 2016 season and not face any dead money.