This scenario was among the hardest to gauge. Big name quarterbacks almost never hit the open market unless they are old or injured. Jay Cutler will be 30-years old when NFL free agency starts up again next March. He has no serious injuries on his record aside from some concussion issues. Everyone has already talked up his talent and it has shown on several occasions. Yet he sits one more failed regular season away from leaving the second team in his career.
Chicago Bears and Phil Emery ready to play chicken on Cutler contract
If it was good enough for the Baltimore Ravens, then why not the Chicago Bears? That is the logic GM Phil Emery has clearly taken with his decision not to open negotiations to give Cutler a contract extension. Baltimore did the same thing with Joe Flacco in 2012 and he responded with a Super Bowl championship. While those expectations are a little high, the Bears do have legitimate reasons to withhold the money. First and foremost, Cutler has one trip to the playoffs in his career, which was three years ago in 2010. That is not the mark of a franchise quarterback. Adding to it is the fact he is currently coming off his worst season as a Bear. His 3,033 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 58 completion percentage were all lows. Never mind the ongoing interception issues and inability to beat Green Bay. Frankly, Cutler hasn’t done enough to earn big money and unlike the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago is willing to risk losing him in 2014 to get their answer once and for all. They’ve done everything they can, getting a left tackle (Jermon Bushrod), star receiver (Brandon Marshall) and an offensive-oriented head coach (Marc Trestman) to ensure his success. The rest is up to him.
Matt Schaub also skating on thin ice with Gary Kubiak and Texans
That said, things happen. Nobody thought Cutler would get traded from Denver and he was. So him leaving Chicago isn’t hard to imagine. What is hard is figuring out where he might land. Most teams understand by now that Jay is a head case. He doesn’t make it easy on coaches, has a bit of a temper that is hard to control and is not the most accessible player in the world. Put simply, he brings lots of baggage. That means if he were to find a team it would have to be one that has a veteran coach who runs a system Jay supports. Luckily the Houston Texans fit the bill perfectly. Much like the Bears they have a small question mark at quarterback to get answered. Twice the team has reached the playoffs the past two seasons. The first time quarterback Matt Schaub didn’t play because of an injury. The second time he struggled down the stretch after starting 11-1 and lost to the New England Patriots in the divisional round. Houston feels its ready for a Super Bowl run. Their biggest unknown is Schaub who turns 32 this year.
Cutler meanwhile is two years younger, more athletic and has a far better arm. What makes the move such a fit is the Texans offense. It is very similar to the one run by Mike Shanahan who coached him for three years in Denver, the same time he went to the Pro Bowl. Gary Kubiak spent years coaching with Shanahan and plays offense the same way. Since Cutler played at a high level in such a scheme, he seems like an ideal replacement for Schaub were he to leave Chicago.
Much will depend on how both quarterbacks do in 2013.