PHOENIX — The Bears did not try to rework Jay Cutler’s contract, the team said Wednesday, two hours after John Fox hinted that they did just that.
“I’m not going to get into everything,” coach John Fox said Wednesday at the NFL annual meeting. “Other than, there was ongoing contract talks and it had time limits. That’s all I’ll say.”
The Bears had until March 12 to release Cutler; if they had, they would not have had to pay the $10 million for 2016. Fox reiterated that the Bears were careful in their evaluation of Cutler up to that point. The team didn’t publicly commit to him at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and announced he would return only one day before the deadline.
“Much like any decision we make, right or wrong or how it proves, we were being deliberate about going through that,” Fox said. “We were limited about how much time you can spend with players during that period. Albeit, it was a contract negotiation, so we were within rules able to communicate.
“And we reached a decision that he was our best opportunity moving forward and we’ve done that.”
Cutler’s contract is considered one of the most onerous in the game. He signed a seven-year, $126.7 million deal with former GM Phil Emery last offseason, with $54 million guaranteed. The Bears were locked into his $15.5 million for 2015 and, now, $10 million of his $16 million in 2016.