Jay Cutler stuck to the high road and never left. When the conversation shifted from offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer’s previously anonymous criticisms to receiver Brandon Marshall’s public decrees, the Bears quarterback didn’t miss a beat.
Cutler smiled, laughed, shrugged and seemingly tried to make the best of a rotten situation.
Should the Bears feel buyer’s remorse about his seven-year, $126.7 million contract, which already has kicked in $38 million guaranteed?
“Stuff like that, when you’re 5-8, that’s going to happen,” Cutler said Friday. “When you just got paid a big contract and you’re a quarterback, that’s part of the deal, part of the job.
“To say it doesn’t affect me, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’m human just like everybody else. I hear about it, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to worry about the Saints, just keep trying to improve this team. If I play better, that will just give us a better chance to win.”
Cutler is on track to have the best season statistically by a Bears quarterback. But the Bears are 5-8, and he has committed a league-worst 21 turnovers.
Cutler’s play has drawn criticism from Marshall, who is on injured reserve after breaking two ribs and injuring his lung last week against the Cowboys. Marshall said he would have buyer’s remorse about Cutler’s contract, and it was widely viewed as another sign of their strained relationship.
“Brandon is frustrated with his production, where the team is, and rightfully so,” Cutler said. “We’re all frustrated right now. Whenever he does get back, I hope that he will help the offense get back on track.”
Of course, that can’t happen until next season — if they’re still together.
Cutler said he isn’t “discounting what [Marshall] says by any means” but his relationship with the outspoken receiver isn’t a problem. He said it’s fractured only “in the media’s mind.”
Cutler has spoken to Marshall recently and has learned through their decadelong relationship to filter things he says.
“I know that he’s going to come back here next year and he’s going to be ready to go,” Cutler said. “He’s going to want the ball, and he’s going to want to win. That’s the important part.”
Coach Marc Trestman said he considers Marshall’s criticism a separate issue and Kromer’s admission that he was the source behind an NFL Network report that was critical of Cutler.
“We understand Brandon and how much he loves this football team,” Trestman said. “There’s no doubt about it. And I know how much he loves Jay and the way they are with each other and what they mean to each other and to the future of our football team.”