After Chicago’s 36-10 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, multiple Bears told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report via text that quarterback Jay Cutler‘s teammates have given up on him. Head coach John Fox, tight end Zach Miller and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks shot down that notion, and Cutler said Thursday that “I don’t feel like the locker room has ever [given up on me]. I’ve never felt like that in the locker room with those guys.” He also cast doubt on the veracity of the report.
“Unnamed source, I’m guessing?” Cutler asked Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. “The source could be a lot of people. It could be a made-up source. It could actually be guys in there. If people actually start putting their names on it, we can have a discussion about it.”
While it’s unknown if some of Cutler’s teammates have indeed quit on him, it’s likely the Bears will at the end of the season. Cutler has been somewhat disappointing since joining Chicago in a blockbuster trade with Denver in 2009, and he and the 2-7 Bears are in the midst of a nightmarish campaign. Cutler, who has only appeared in four games because of a thumb injury, has completed just 59.8 percent of his 107 passes and tossed three touchdowns against four interceptions. Backup Brian Hoyer outperformed Cutler enough in relief that it appeared he’d start if both were healthy, but it became a moot point when Hoyer landed on injured reserve Oct. 24 with a broken left arm.
Hoyer is set to become a free agent after the season, and Cutler looks primed to join him on the open market. While Cutler’s scheduled to count $16MM against the Bears’ cap next season, releasing the soon-to-be 34-year-old would leave the team with just $2MM in dead money in 2017. With the playoffs already out of reach, the draft-minded Bears are doing “extensive research” on Miami quarteback Brad Kaaya and have surely studied other possible Cutler successors as they look toward the future.
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