Jay Cutler's Injury Clouds His Future
Jay Cutler has a groin injury that is going to keep him out of at least the next four games of the 2013 season according to the Chicago Bears. Losing your starting quarterback for any number of games isn't good for a team's chances, but this also comes at an inopportune moment for both the Bears and Cutler in terms of the future of both being in a contractual relationship as well.
Culter's contract is due to expire this coming offseason, and the injury situation has complicated things. Cutler has again proven that counting on him being under center for every snap of a full season isn't really practical and that if a team intends to make him their franchise quarterback, a reliable backup is a must. This is sure to not only make Chicago less likely to sign him to an extension before the season ends, but also make the other teams in the NFL less likely to offer him their maximum when free agency begins.
However, the Bears are still in a situation where continuity and the locker room are a concern. If they decide that Cutler isn't worth the money it could take to re-sign him, or they don't want to commit to a contract of four or more years, they are taking huge risks. Finding a suitable replacement could prove difficult and set the offense back. The other quarterbacks with the most experience in the coming free agent class are Josh Freeman and Chad Henne. Cutler would be considered a better option than either of those by most NFL teams.
The relationship that Cutler has with wide receiver Brandon Marshall isn't something easily replaced. Also, there are other players in the Chicago locker room that have contracts that are soon to expire. Giving Cutler a new deal could force the Bears to have to make tough decisions about Charles Tillman and others, as well as create pressure on head coach Marc Trestman. A team that has given a quarterback a huge new deal expects to win frequently and immediately.
Additionally, if the Bears are going to re-sign Cutler, then everyday they wait to do so costs them. If they let Cutler hit the open market then they become just one of several teams in a bidding war for Cutler's services. It would be heavily in Chicago's best interests to extend him now. Cutler's injury makes that a harder decision for GM Phil Emery and the Bears' front office.
Resigning Cutler may not be a perfect situation for Chicago, but they may not have any better options. Cutler is a familiar face with the team and has a good repore with the rest of the offense. If Cutler wants to stay in Chicago, the Bears may be able to get more favorable terms because of his injuries.