Bears GM: Jay Cutler is our quarterback

SHARE Bears GM: Jay Cutler is our quarterback
SHARE Bears GM: Jay Cutler is our quarterback

Jay Cutler is the Bears quarterback. General manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox ended any speculation otherwise during a press conference at Halas Hall on Wednesday.

“We went through of process of thoroughly evaluating the roster and we’re moving forward with Jay Cutler as our starting quarterback,” Pace said. “We’ve spent time with him on a personal basis, just getting to know him as a person.

“Just being thorough with all that, that helped us come to this conclusion.”

Regardless of his contract, Cutler’s situation had become precarious at the NFL Scouting Combine last month after Pace and Fox made a concerted effort not to commit to him. He was widely considered to be available on the trade market, but Pace refuted that on Wednesday.

“Zero,” Pace said when asked to characterize Cutler’s trade market. “We never did that.”

As unlikely as a trade was, the rumors were there. Some fence-mending might be needed between team and quarterback — one who is guaranteed $10 million more for 2016 on Thursday. But Pace seems confident that Cutler will be fine.

“I don’t think so,” Pace said. “This is a new group that’s come in together — a new general manager, new head coach, new coaches and I think this was just a process for us all.

“So I don’t feel like there was any fence-mending. He understood the process that we were going through. We’re excited together going forward.”

Fox said he feels good about the decision, which included input from offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. Fox will be Cutler’s third head coach with the Bears, and Gase will be his fifth coordinator.

“We made the commitment,” Fox said. “Time will tell for all of us. We haven’t even been on the grass yet. I’ve watched Jay compete in the past. We gained a lot of information moving forward.

“I think there’s a talent level there that obviously we feel good enough to explore. Like all our players, they’re going to get a chance to compete and see how we perform. That’s the exciting part of all of this.”

The 2015 season will be Cutler’s 10th in the NFL. In 2014, he completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,812 yards and 28 touchdowns. But Cutler also led the NFL in turnovers with 24.

“I think the biggest thing for me is, is a guy willing to work?,” Fox said. “If a guy will work at it, he can get better. If he’s not willing to work at it, he’s not getting better.

“In this league you don’t stay the same – you’re either getting better or getting worse. And so what I saw and learned of [Cutler] is intelligence [and] he’s wiling to work at it, so I think he’s capable of improving.”

Despite all the time spent with Cutler, Fox did say there’s more to learn, especially when it comes to him being a leader.

“It’s hard to say because I haven’t really seen him interact with his teammates yet,” Fox said when asked about Cutler’s leadership abilities. “I think it’s something that I think all of us can get better at on a daily basis, and we’ll see where that goes going forward.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns

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