Jay Cutler signed a seven year, $126.7 million deal with the Bears this past offseason, yet ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Bears trading Jay Cutler after this season is a real possibility.
Despite the Bear’s poor season thus far, Jay Cutler is actually putting up career numbers, showing that the season’s lack of success isn’t entirely his fault.
Cutler has 18 TDs in just 9 games this season, and is on pace to beat his career high in touchdown passes in a season by five. He is also completing 66.4% of his passes, which tops his previous high of 63.6% in 2007.
So, what is the reason everyone in Chicago seems to hate this guy? His turnovers. Cutler already 10 interceptions on the year, as well as 7 fumbles. Bears fans have learned to hold their breath every time this guy’s hands are on the ball.
Jay Cutler isn’t the only problem in Chicago, but he is one that is easy to blame. Plus, Marc Trestman is already on the way out, so the Bears need to make some other change to prove to their fans they are serious about winning.
The way to do that would be to save themselves $12.5 million and trade the veteran quarterback.
“Cutler is owed a base salary of $15.5 million for next season, and if the Bears were to cut him in the offseason, they would be stuck with nearly $20 million in dead salary cap space. That number goes down drastically in the 2016 season to just $3 million, but Cutler still collects a ton of guaranteed money that year and it wouldn’t seem like the McCaskey family would cut ties with him and pay him a ton to just go away.”
So, as you can see, trading Cutler is a much better option than cutting him and watching their salary cap wither away this offseason. Schefter implied that there will be a trade market for the battered quarterback, and the Bears’ GM Phil Emery needs to take a long hard look at those teams interested.
A few teams that pop out as ones that could be interested are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Jets.
A deal with Tampa would likely include a swap of Cutler for former backup and fill in starter Josh McCown, who hasn’t found his rhythm in South Florida, as well as some other hefty contracts. Dashon Goldson was a big contract thrown around before the trade deadline, and a package of Goldson and McCown would be a pretty good return for Chicago.
Obviously McCown isn’t the long term solution in Chicago, but it allows them more flexibility and a good backup for whoever the Bears could manage to bring in.
The Bills are another team who could be looking for a quarterback if the Kyle Orton experiment somehow hits a speed bump, although theres a strong chance it doesn’t.
The Vikings seem to like what they have with Teddy Bridgewater as well, so they may not pick up the phone if Chicago calls.
The team that screams Jay Cutler’s future home to me is the New York Jets. The Jets need a quarterback they can build around, and both Geno Smith and Michael Vick have proven to not be the guy. Pairing Cutler with a stellar receiving unit of Percy Harvin, Eric Decker, and Jeremy Kerley would make the Jets a scary offensive team. Chicago would just be looking for cap relief here and some low draft picks, but would probably be willing to take back Geno Smith to be their backup.
The Bears, if they do indeed trade Cutler this offseason, will need to find an answer at quarterback this offseason. Currently slated for a late top ten pick in the 2015 NFL draft, it is unlikely the two shiny quarterback prospects, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, will be available. Free agency may be their only option.
Ryan Mallet and Mark Sanchez are both free agents this Spring and have shown great potential in limited playing time this season, but both of their stocks may rise or fall in the next few weeks. The best free agent quarterback this year is current Cleveland Brown Brian Hoyer, who has not been given an extension just yet. The Bears would likely be in the mix for the Cleveland native if he does hit the free agent market.
There is no perfect deal for the Bears to trade Cutler, nor is there a team that is dying for his services. But striking a deal with someone who will pay the bare minimum for Cutler is what would be the best move for the Chicago team who is tired of losing.