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Interactive graphic: Jay Cutler vs. the franchise quarterbacks

Is Jay Cutler a franchise quarterback?

That’s the big question Phil Emery will have to decide in the coming months. By now, we all know there are three options:

  • Slap the franchise tag on him (According to’s Albert Breer, the projected franchise-tag number for a quarterback in 2014 will be $16.2 million.
  • Sign him to a long-term deal.
  • Cut ties with Cutler and let him sign elsewhere.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure — next season, he’ll be commanding similar money to the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But do his stats warrant such a thing?

According to, the top-paid quarterbacks in 2013 (based on salary cap hit) are:

  • Eli Manning, $20,850,000
  • Matthew Stafford, $17,820,000
  • Peyton Manning, $17,500,000
  • Drew Brees, $17,474,000
  • Tom Brady, $13,800,000

Here’s how Cutler compares to these “franchise” quarterbacks this year (and yes, we know it’s a bit ridiculous to include Eli Manning in here based on his stats, but we have to based on the contract):

NFL games are won and lost in the fourth quarter, and Jay “Mr. Fourth Quarter” Cutler compares extremely favorably:

How about engineering a come-from-behind win? A look at how they play when trailing:

And then there’s that whole red zone offense, where Cutler has been prone to throw an interception.

The success of a season can largely rest in how December plays out. Here’s how Cutler’s December numbers stack up since 2010:

But then there’s the postseason numbers, where he’s only a step ahead of Detroit’s Matthew Stafford: