If quarterback Jay Cutler‘s thumb injury keeps him on the shelf for an extended period of time, he could actually be likelier to remain with the Bears in 2017, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). The Bears hope to decide by season’s end whether to go forward with Cutler as a long-term option, says Cole, but if they’re unable to fully evaluate the signal-caller, his affordable deal might keep him in their plans next year.
The notion of another go-around with Cutler might not be an appealing one to Bears fans, of course, especially given the start he and the team have had in 2016. The Cutler-led Bears put up a combined 28 points in their first two games, losses to the Texans and Eagles. In a blowout home defeat to Philadelphia on Monday, Cutler tried to play through a thumb injury he suffered in Week 1, and he hit on 12 of 17 passes for 157 yards and an interception before exiting in the third quarter.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Tuesday that the banged-up Cutler could sit out a few weeks, and sources told Cole that he will miss significant time. That would leave the Bears with the experienced Brian Hoyer under center as they try to climb out of the NFC North cellar. Hoyer connected on 9 of 12 passes for 78 yards in relief of Cutler on Monday.
The Bears paid a hefty price for Cutler in 2009, sending two first-rounders, a third-rounder and fellow signal-caller Kyle Orton to Denver to acquire, but his tenure in Chicago has been a rocky one. In Cutler’s 99 regular-season starts, the team has hovered around .500 (50-49) – including a woeful 3-14 mark at Soldier Field since 2014 – as he has completed 61.9 percent of passes and tossed 151 touchdowns against 106 interceptions.
Chicago has made the playoffs just once with Cutler at the helm, in 2010, and is currently stuck in a six-year postseason drought. The team signed him to a seven-year, $126MM extension with $54MM in guarantees in January 2014, and he’s set to count $16MM against its cap in 2017. Releasing Cutler after the season would leave the Bears with just $2MM in dead money in 2017, though the club could instead opt to continue with him at the controls, as Cole reports.
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