The Bears have been curiously silent since publicly declining to commit to quarterback Jay Cutler at the NFL Scouting Combine. But that may have changed on Tuesday, several hours before free agency opened at 3 p.m.
According to an ESPN report, Cutler will be the Bears’ quarterback in 2015. The report by ESPN national insider Chris Mortensen refuted a recent report that Cutler was actively being shopped.
Three sources close to the Bears told the Sun-Times that it would be very surprising if Cutler wasn’t the Bears’ quarterback in 2015. New offensive coordinator Adam Gase also is said to be open to working with Cutler. Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains also has a relationship with Cutler.
Keeping Cutler is a move that goes over well in the locker room, according to Bears Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long.
“In our room, we’re all on board with who our quarterback is,” Long said during an interview on the “Kap & Haugh Show” on Comcast SportsNet.
Long also voiced his support on Twitter.
That said, Cutler was widely regarded as being available in trades if other teams offered the Bears something valuable in return. It just hasn’t happened after the Bears made it a point to not voice support for Cutler at the combine last month.
For all practical purposes, keeping Cutler on the roster past Thursday doesn’t preclude the Bears from trading him. The Bears can be on the hook for the $10 million guarantee for 2016 on Thursday and deal him anyway, letting another team pick up the tab.
Still, Cutler’s onerous contract makes him difficult, if not impossible, to deal, while his talent makes him better than any available free agent.
The Bears’ pending trade of receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets also is a separate situation. Cutler’s close relationship with Marshall deteriorated last season, sources said.
It’s worth wondering how the rampant speculation over Cutler’s future has affected the quarterback. But Cutler did handle his Week 16 benching and an NFL Network report about the team experiencing “buyer’s remorse” about his contract in a mature way last season. The hope is the same happens. Pace said at the combine that Cutler understood their evaluation process.
“I think it is intelligent and smart of us to utilize that entire time and be thorough with all these decisions,” Pace said at the combine. “It’s not just he quarterback but everybody. Why wouldn’t we be?
“I just want to be patient and thorough on the film and talking to the players individually as we go through the whole thing.”