A day after the Bears finished in last place in the NFC North at 6-10 on Sunday, Pace praised the team's quarterback, per Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
I think Jay knows that we have extreme confidence in him. We’re going to continue to build the offense around him; I think he knows that. I think he also knows that, ‘Hey, we’re always going to draft best player available, too, and acquire as much talent as we can.’ We’ve been very open and honest with all our players.
Cutler signed a seven-year, $126.7 million contract prior to the 2014 season and has had two of his better seasons since, drastically dropping his interception total this year from last.
However, the Bears select at No. 11 in the upcoming draft, and Pace reiterated if they feel the best player available is a quarterback, they will make the move, per Finley.
“So if it’s a quarterback, it’s a quarterback,” he said. “I’ve said before how important that position is and that will continue to be the case.”
Pace then followed with more positive words for Cutler, who will turn 33 years old in April.
“We have a ton of confidence in him,” Pace said. “Guys, he played well this year. I think you guys saw that he did. Turnovers were down. He was athletic and extended plays with his feet. He did a lot with a lot of injuries to our skill positions.”
One of Cutler's teammates, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, said last week he has confidence in the quarterback as well, per the Bears' Twitter account:
If Cutler can continue to limit his turnovers and the Bears can re-sign talented wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, Chicago would at least be taking a step in the right direction toward securing a playoff spot in 2016.