Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was the subject of frequent criticism and trade speculation even before he was benched, and now that the team has decided to tab backup Jimmy Clausen as the starter this Sunday against the Lions, the Cutler rumor mill is busier than ever. Here are the latest whispers about what Cutler’s future may hold:
- Both Cutler and Marc Trestman spoke to reporters today about the decision, with Cutler indicating that he could play for Trestman next season and would like to remain with the Bears (Twitter links). The veteran quarterback added that while the security his contract provides is nice, he’s disappointed with the season, and would trade that contract security for a better record and better play (Twitter link via ESPN’s Michael C. Wright).
- As for Trestman, he indicated that this decision applies to this weekend only, and that Cutler will be the team’s No. 2 quarterback against the Lions (Twitter links). In other words, Clausen could start Week 17 as well, but nothing’s guaranteed yet.
- Two “accomplished and respected” Bears players tell Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com that a number of players in the Chicago locker room feel “confused and uncomfortable” over how Trestman has handled Cutler’s benching — especially when compared to the light discipline received by offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer last week.
- According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), Trestman is hoping that the change in quarterbacks will prove that his system can still be effective without Cutler at the helm.
- Mike Sando of ESPN.com tweets that he has talked to several people around the league who wonder why any team would give up anything more than maybe a seventh-round pick for Cutler.
- The Bears need to overhaul their franchise, and moving on from Cutler would be a start, writes Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com.
- Exploring potential trade suitors for Cutler, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes that many of the logical partners for Chicago are in the AFC, identifying the Bills, Jets, Browns, Texans, Titans, and Raiders as possibilities. Florio also writes that the Bears should be willing to essentially give Cutler away in a trade if necessary, rather than holding out for a higher draft pick, since the team could do a lot more with $15.5MM in cash and cap savings than it could with a mid- or late-round pick.
- Dan Hanzus of NFL.com lists seven potential landing spots for Cutler, overlapping with Florio on the Bills, Browns, Titans, and Jets. Hanzus also singles out the Buccaneers, Rams, and Washington as possible suitors.
- Appearing on CSN Chicago, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com took a shot at predicting what Cutler might be worth in a trade: “If they look to deal him, and my belief is that they will, then I think they can get something back for him. They’re not going to get what they gave up to get him. … Jay Cutler right now is on sale. He’s been devalued. My guess, just a guess today without speaking to personnel people around the NFL… I would guess that they could probably get back a fourth-round pick for Jay Cutler that could go to a third if he meets certain conditions such as taking a team to the playoffs. That’d be my guess. A mid-round conditional draft pick.”
- Benching a quarterback with a massive contract is an irreversible decision in many ways, according to Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Tribune, who weighs the pros and cons for the Bears cutting, trading, or keeping Cutler.
- Albert Breer of the NFL Network points out (via Twitter) that Marc Trestman‘s reputation as a quarterback guru, which has taken a hit this year, could be rejuvenated if Clausen lights it up this weekend. We’ve heard that the team is likely to part ways with Trestman at season’s end, but perhaps a strong finish would change those plans.