The Chicago Bears announced Thursday morning that they have signed franchise quarterback Jay Cutler to a seven year contract. Official figures have been released, and Cutler will make 18 million in the first three years of the deal with 54 million guaranteed and a total of 126 million . Cutler was traded to the Bears back in 2009 from Denver in exchange for then, Bears quarterback Kyle Orton and two consecutive first round picks (2009 and 2010) and a third rounder (2009). It’s been a roller coaster for fans of the Chicago Bears. Years of inept play calling, Devin Hester as a number one wideout, and horrid offensive line play all contributed to Cutler’s up and down years in Chicago. Cutler arguably had his best year as a quarterback posting an average QBR of 89.2 his best of his 8 year pro career. In 2013 Cutler completed 63.1 percent of his passes on 355 attempts for 2,621 yards and 19 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Injuries likely stifled those numbers. The hope in signing Cutler is that consistency in play calls, and another year in the same offensive system will allow him to build on those numbers and grow as a passer.
The Bears also signed pro bowl cornerback Tim Jennings to a four year deal. Tim Jennings had a down year in 2013 from his incredible 2012 campaign in which he had 9 interceptions. However the Bears entire defense took a step back under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Jennings was one of the lone bright spots in the league’s worst defense, likely dictating Emery’s move to keep him. Bears also signed offensive guard Matt Slauson to a 4 year deal in order to keep continuity on the offensive line. After years of poor line play the Bears revamped the entire line with only Roberto Garza remaining from 2012. The entire line improved this year and this signing should allow the line to continue to grow together.
I think this benefits the Bears in two major ways. First they have a quarterback, which is more than many teams can say in the NFL. Finding a solid signal caller is no easy task. Cutler can only improve from here, with another year in head coach Trestman’s system it should greatly benefit Cutler. Two, Cutler allows Phil Emery much more flexibility in this years draft. No matter who was at quarterback this year the offense didn’t need to be fixed. The big issue for the Bears is not on the offensive side of the ball, but rather defense. By signing Cutler (and Slauson) the offense has insured both continuity and filled key holes. This gives the Bears the ability to focus solely on the defensive side of the ball in the draft. Flexibility in the draft is going to give Emery the freedom to build a plan heading into the draft and free agency in order to fix a broken defense.