Jay Cutler Signs 7-Year Contract with Chicago Bears

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2014

Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel

Jay Cutler's time with the Chicago Bears isn't over yet. Cutler and the Bears agreed to a seven-year deal on Thursday, ending months of speculation about where the former Pro Bowler would play in 2014.

Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times has the news: 

To recap, #Bears announced they have reached a seven-year deal with QB Jay Cutler and a four-year deal with CB Tim Jennings.

— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) January 2, 2014

Updates From Monday, Jan. 6

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune brings up an interesting part of Cutler's new contract:

According to multiple sources that have reviewed the contract, the Bears included an "automatic conversion" clause that allows the club to create salary-cap space as needed moving forward.

Cutler signed a $126.7 million, seven-year contract that includes $54 million guaranteed. His base salary for 2014 is $22.5 million, meaning his salary-cap number is identical. But the team can convert a portion of that base salary to a signing bonus at any time, money that would be prorated over the life of the contract, thus lowering his cap hit for this season.

 ---End of update---

Alex Marvez of Fox Sports is the first to provide contract details:

I don't have final numbers yet but am reporting for @FOXSports that #bears qb jay cutler's new deal averages 18M for 1st 3 yrs, source says

— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 2, 2014

With that much invested in Cutler I'm not sure #bears have enough cap space to keep Josh McCown. Probably look for cheaper backup option

— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 2, 2014

Adam Schefter of ESPN gives more contract information and some context to Cutler's deal:

Jay Cutler's 7-year deal expected to average more than Matt Stafford's $17.6M per year, with at least $50M guaranteed. (via @AdamSchefter)

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 2, 2014

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com had full figures for the deal:

#Bears QB Jay Cutler’s contract: 7 years, $126 million with $54M guaranteed.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 2, 2014

Rapoport also provided this quote from Cutler, who spoke about the deal:

Jay Cutler: “Whether it’s $15M or it’s $22M, it’s hard to spend all that in your lifetime. @KristinCav said she’ll help.” Classic.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 2, 2014

Albert Breer of NFL.com reports what the deal entails for the first few seasons: 

Couple details on Cutler: $38 million in first 2 years, and $54 million from 2014-16. As @RapSheet said earlier, $54 million in guarantees.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 3, 2014

Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune brings us general manager Phil Emery's thoughts on the deal:

Emery on Cutler: "Very excited to have Jay for the long term."

— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) January 2, 2014

Zach Zaidman of the Bears Radio Network has more from Emery:

Phil Emery says Jay Cutler is coming off his best season as a pro

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Emery on Cutler: "He's a demonstrated winner with the Chicago Bears."

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Emery says Cutler is a leader. "I think he has a special bond with our coaching staff," he said.

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Emery says the signings put the #Bears on the road to winning championships.

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

ESPN's Jeff Dickerson added more from Emery:

Emery: "Jay doesn't have to be better than Aaron Rodgers. Our team has to be better than the Green Bay Packers."

— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) January 2, 2014

Peggy Kusinski of NBC Chicago tweets a scene of Emery's announcement:

#BREAKING: #BEARS SIGN JAY CUTLER 7 yr deal pic.twitter.com/RclDkVYnjb

— Peggy Kusinski (@peggykusinski) January 2, 2014

Cutler later spoke to the media about his new deal (via Zaidman):

Cutler: "The organization is headed in the right way."

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Cutler: "I truly believe that we have the right group of people [to win a championship]."

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Cutler: "It's not always been easy...It makes me appreciate the situation and the moment I'm in even more."

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Cutler on Trestman: "I'm happy to be married to him for 7 more years."

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) January 2, 2014

Acquired in a massive trade with the Denver Broncos before the 2009 season, Cutler has had a tumultuous time with the Bears. He failed to reach the individual highs of his Denver days thanks to a more run-oriented system, seemingly falling behind a new generation of quarterbacks who came in and had instant success.

Injuries have also played a major factor in Cutler dropping down the quarterback hierarchy. He's missed at least one game in each of the past four seasons, and in 2013 a torn groin muscle nearly cost him his starting job. 

Josh McCown excelled in place of the injured Cutler, compiling a 13-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. McCown led the NFL in ESPN's QBR metric, an algorithm that factors in how a player performs in the clutch. With the Bears in contention for an NFC North title under McCown's stewardship and the offense humming, some called for coach Marc Trestman to bench Cutler permanently.

Trestman refused, and Cutler re-entered the starting lineup for the season's final three games. Chicago went 1-2 in those contests, including a division-deciding loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. Cutler finished the season with 2,621 yards and 19 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. While still ranked among the top half of quarterbacks metrically, he was outperformed by McCown.

With both signal-callers hitting free agency, Cutler made it clear he wanted to be in Chicago going forward. 

"I think if you polled quarterbacks around the league, everyone's going to want to come here," Cutler said, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. "Why wouldn't you want to play here? We've got a lot of guys who can make some plays. It would be fun to stay here. Obviously I want to stay here."

It seems the feeling was reciprocated. With a new deal in place with the Bears and the starting job obviously his, Cutler should be able to feel secure again. Heading into his age 31 season, it's become obvious that he is who he is at this point. Cutler is occasionally going to have a game where he looks like one of the worst starting quarterbacks in NFL history; he's never going to be Peyton Manning-level proficient.

But considering the alternatives on the open market (Michael Vick, Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, et al), the Bears will likely be more than satisfied with their purchase.

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