Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Jan 2014

Jay Cutler Signs Seven-Year Extension with Bears

No terms reported as of yet.

The Bears also re-signed guard Matt Slauson and cornerback Tim Jennings to four-year deals, per Brad Biggs.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 02 Jan 2014

45 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2014, 4:51pm by poss0021


by ebongreen :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:23pm

Better the talented-but-inconsistent QB that you know, than the potential draft-bust that you don't?

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:57pm

The Bears don't have a very high draft pick, and Cutler finished 13th in DVOA this past year.

The odds of getting a better QB than Cutler in the draft with a #1 pick are probably about ~30%, the odds of getting one with the 14th pick are probably less than 20%. Mostly likely it would mean a trade up.

by baubo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:09am

Given the new rookie scale on draft picks, I think the better comparison be Cutler at $18mil vs. draft pick at $3mil(?) + $15mil of capspace - opportunity cost of a draft pick?

I am not saying re-signing Cutler is the wrong move. It's just that I've heard this argument used whenever a team trade a 1st round pick for a guy and say, "he's better than the guy we'll get in the draft." Ignoring the fact that one guy makes star money and the other makes peanuts.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 11:17am

I don't think this is an important consideration at QB, where you just want the best player you can possibly get.

It doesn't matter if the guy makes 1 million per year if he's Rex Grossman.

by Duke :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 7:58pm

Presumably if you didn't resign Cutler you wouldn't go in with JUST the draft pick at QB. Presumably you would sign McCown to hold the fort, at least. That has to be, what, 7 million at least?

I know they say they still want to sign McCown but I doubt they'll do that at the market rate, which is what they'd probably have to pay him if they made him the starter. Most likely McCown moves on, I'd think.

by rageon :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:43pm

Seeing $18M/yr average. Seems reasonable enough given the Flacco contract. There is the history of missed games, but it's hard to say how many of the injuries in Chicago were at least in part the result of that O-line.

Comparing the contracts of the next tier QBs to the Top-4 doesn't really seem fair, as I've got to assume the actual, real-world value of a Rodgers or Manning on the open market is probably more than $30M a year -- even if their current contracts don't reflect that.

by tally :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:25pm

Saying "seems reasonable enough given the Flacco contract" is akin to saying "seems like a reasonable guy compared to Kanye."

by rageon :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:20pm

Fair enough.

The Flacco contract is nuts when you consider he makes as much as the elite guys, but as I mentioned, I'm not convinced those guys are really making as much they could if they wanted to chase the money (and Manning got $20/yr despite huge injury concerns).

It's comparable to the Flacco deal in that $18M is what it's going to take a obtain a QB in the top half of the league. You pretty much need one of those guys to be a contender, so you're stuck with either paying them nearly $20M a year or hoping to get lucky in the draft.

by BJR :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 5:51pm

The QB market is distorted because of the scarcity of good passers and the salary cap. Joe Flacco is still by far the most important player on the Ravens roster, given the alternatives available. So in those terms, he is probably paid a fair amount.

However, players like Aaron Rodgers cannot demand what they are truly worth in comparison to Flacco et. al. because it would quickly start to harm the rest of the roster. So we are left with a situation where any passer capable of a certain level of play is basically worth x percent of the cap, without any real upward room for manoeuvre.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:15pm

PFT (the best source I've found for breaking down contracts) says it's ~18M per year for the first 3 years. After that, the devil will be in the details.

But I agree with the other poster who stated that the Flacco deal is a bad benchmark. This is paying top-shelf money for good-but-not-great talent. Flacco's bloated deal caused the Ravens to let some people go that they probably would have liked to keep. Cutler's deal will probably cause the Bears to have to do the same. In both cases, you're talking about a QB who doesn't have the transcendent talent to make up for those personnel losses.

by Mash Wilson :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:29pm

It's a three year contract.

Also: Why are all of my posts being flagged as spam? The above was five words. Five words!

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 9:19am

"It's a three year contract."

Based on PFT's breakdown, you're spot on. This "seven-year" deal is really a 3 yr, 54M fully guaranteed deal, followed essentially by a series of one-year team options.

The interesting thing is that there is no signing bonus. The vast majority of the value of the contract comes in the form of base salary. It's a good long-term move by the Bears to not push the cap hit out into future years. It also implies that Cutler is extremely unlikely to really play the full 7 years of this deal. In theory, he could be released after 3 with no cap hit to the team.

by Roch Bear :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 5:46pm

Or, Cutler is likely to really play the full 7 years of the deal (at age 34-37 inclusive) and be a great deal for the Bears. Cutler does not seem money-driven so if his performance holds steady at about this year's level, why wouldn't that happen?

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:34pm

"Flacco's bloated deal caused the Ravens to let some people go that they probably would have liked to keep.

Not the case. It may be a bad deal for the Ravens in the long term. We'll see how that goes, but like most of these deals the cap number in the first year was pretty small. Flacco's cap number for 2013 was $6.8 million. Even next year it's not terrible. Again like a lot of these the number starts to really get wacky in the third year.

by JasonK :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:39pm

The Flacco deal isn't the only relevant precedent. Stafford, Ryan, Manning-the-Younger, Romo, etc., all point to compensation in this general range.

This is the going rate for a starting QB who you intend to keep long-term.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 4:27pm

Stafford, Ryan, E Manning (this year's INT fest not withstanding) and Romo are all QBs I'd rather have than Jay Cutler. I understand there's more to it than that, but on a value basis, if they were all getting paid the same, Cutler would be the worst value.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 5:02pm

Perhaps due to age, but Stafford is the guy I'd me most hesitant about, in terms of commitment to what the position requires. The Lions need to get a guy who will quickly find out if Stafford is willing to do what it takes to be worth the money he's getting.

by Roch Bear :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 7:42pm

Given the evaluation of these guys is so VERY tied to their teammates, I'd be hard pressed to choose. Still, if I had to pick among the middle group of NFL franchise QBs, I'd go Romo, Ryan, Cutler, Flaco, E. Manning, Stafford. And, I might well be exactly wrong,.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 10:01am

"Given the evaluation of these guys is so VERY tied to their teammates, I'd be hard pressed to choose."


Cutler looked like he was worlds better than Romo, Ryan, Flacco, e. Manning, etc, when he was with the Broncos, then looked terrible his first couple of years with the Bears (but what Bears QB hasn't looked terrible?).

Cutler could be anywhere between below average, and a superstar, as far as talent goes, and there's no way for those of us who don't have a lot of access to all-22 to know, one way or the other.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 1:34pm

It's understood that player performance, especially for QBs, is context dependent. Not just teammates, but also system and coaching. That's true of all players. But at some point, you kinda just have to look at what a guy has done on the field and make a judgment.

Cutler has been in the league for 8 years. Generally speaking, he's been above average when healthy, but not spectacular. He's not below average, and he's not a superstar. He's good enough that you can win a SB with him -- which is extremely important in the modern NFL, and undoubtedly the reason he got this contract -- but he's not going to carry your team there on his back. That's not intended to be a slight, but I really don't believe there's untapped superstar potential in Jay Cutler.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 11:13am

Completely agree on the impossibility of saying with any confidence, but if I had to I think I'd go Ryan, Romo, Cutler, Eli, Stafford, Flacco. Though it would depend a bit on the context - behind a bad line I think I'd have Eli and Romo well ahead of the rest.

by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:52pm

I'd place them roughly in that order too; certainly the first three, with Eli, Stafford, and Flacco a bit of a toss-up. This year finally really sold me on Matt Ryan though. Behind a bad line, with a weak running game, and a bunch of passes going to a hobbled Roddy White, Harry Douglas, Drew Davis, Darius Johnson, and Levine Toilolo, Atlanta's pass offense was still reasonably effective -- the team's pass DVOA was 11th and Ryan's own DVOA was ninth. Romo's the only other quarterback in that group I'd expect to perform at all well in that situation.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:53pm

Manning got $20M with a broken neck, at 37, with only 2 teams interested. Brady took a huge pay cut voluntarily.

There are atleast 5 guys making more than Cutler is on this deal, and usually the newest deal is the highest. $18M is pretty much going rate for a guy who isn't terrible.

Mark Sanchez got 14M/yr for god's sake.

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 8:32pm

Actually, Manning was only interested in playing for 1 or 2 teams. If he wanted to his market would have been around 5-8 teams. Sanchez was on that old rookie wage scale. Plus the other gm was a moron for signing him to an extension

by PaddyPat :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:26pm

What about McCown? Didn't he significantly outperform Cutler this year? Moreover, DVOA has consistently indicated that Cutler performs at or below replacement level in Chicago...

by MMacks (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:53pm

McCown was living on borrowed time and every intelligent Bear fan knew it. He kept the Bears in the playoff/division race (along with Rodger's injury) but there is little chance he does what he did this year again next year and beyond.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:12pm

McCown is the luckiest QB I have ever seen. He must have had half a dozen picks dropped or called back through penalty. Maybe more.

As for his advanced stats, well I think you've read enough moaning about receivers and offensive lines from Bears fast the last 5 years to last a lifetime. If not, just go through the comment threads on this site again.

by Duke :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:39pm

I think the truest statement would be that there wasn't enough data to say that McCown was truly significantly better than Cutler, or that he would be going forward. Especially if you weigh it against the large volume of data that is the rest of McCown's NFL career.

McCown was better this season but it's not a slam dunk. If I were Trestman I would go with McCown and a young QB to groom, but then I'm not Trestman, and actual Trestman who knows a lot more about QBs than I do went with Cutler, so there you have it.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 4:13pm

McCown is also four years older.

by Anonymous one (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 4:23pm

McCown is also talking publicly about retiring.

by Michael Goetze (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 8:21pm

McCown wouldn't be talking about retiring if someone offered him $18m/year.

by Juvenal (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 11:56pm

I suspect even only 10 million per year would be enough.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 1:58pm

Trestman obviously thinks Cutler was receptive to coaching. Given Trestman's track record with various qbs, that should be a good enough endorsement for Bears fans.

by Duke :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 3:41pm


Trestman's work with the offense this year was so good that I am willing to accept whatever decision he makes at the QB position. I feel like he knows what he's doing, and I'm okay with following that. Plus, Cutler predates both Trestman and Emery (the GM), so it's not like either of them is beholden to keeping Cutler to make their past decisions look good.

Now, on matters of defense...we'll see.

by Luigi (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 4:19pm

As a Packer fan this is great news. Trestman and Cutler forever!

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 6:01pm

That's an incredibly moronic statement. This year it was the defense and not the offense that was a problem in Chicago. This year's offense and any Bears defense from the last ten years, and it's Chicago and not GB in the playoffs. The Bears weren't going to find anyone as good as Cutler in the FA market. Cutler hasn't become a great QB, but he is still a very good one. As another Packers fan, I see the NFCN being tougher next year.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 6:20pm

Don't feed the trolls.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 7:51pm

I know. But we've already one idiot Packers fan who pops off and embarrasses the rest of us here, and I'd prefer not to deal with another one.

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/02/2014 - 8:35pm

Hey Rodgers!!.... Discount double check

by poss0021 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/06/2014 - 4:51pm

Is it really that embarrassing for a Packer fan to want to continue to see Cutler line up for Chicago? Say what you want about an improved offense and a new Cutler, that guy just doesn't beat Green Bay.

by poss0021 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/06/2014 - 4:49pm

I'm not sure how it gets much tougher than this year.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 12:02pm

I was really surprised to see that they signed him so quickly, but I'm glad. As others have said, he got paid basically the going rate for a QB worth keeping these days. Since I consider him to be somewhere around the 10th best QB in the league, I'm fine with that.

The argument that they could have drafted someone to replace him and free up cap space doesn't persuade me based on two factors. One is the likelihood that they could draft a QB at least as good as Cutler...swinging and missing could doom the franchise for half a decade or more. Also, while I think it's reasonable to argue that the offense may or may not continue to improve (of course, it's already pretty good), the defense is abysmal and the Bears aren't going to the Super Bowl unless it gets fixed. Being able to draft an impact player for the defense in the first round is huge.

Also, anything that riles up the meathead fans is okay with me. I had to listen to someone at New Year's complain that Cutler should be gone because "he just proved he still can't beat the Packers." As if Cutler was playing defense on the game winning drive, or as if he stood around and let the Packers run in that fumble for the TD.

by ChasMac (not verified) :: Fri, 01/03/2014 - 8:15pm

I haven't heard one person mention the main issue with Cutler. Lack of good fundamentals. Just like sexy Rexy Grossman, he CONSTANTLY throws off his back foot (hence the interceptions). On top of that, he'll force into coverage and will take the riskier pass downfield quite often. I don't see that changing. SB teams need someone that doesn't turn the ball over. He ain't the guy.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 01/04/2014 - 9:29am

Someone like Eli Manning, for example?

by Steve in WI :: Sat, 01/04/2014 - 5:51pm

Fair point on the fundamentals, but I think Cutler did a better job of not forcing throws this past season than any other season with the Bears. I don't think he's going to drastically change at this point, but I think he's shown a willingness to change to some extent.