Bye week? Keeping Cutler is bad, but some alternatives are worse

An NFL team without a star quarterback is like a beehive without a queen bee.

The workers and drones can buzz around, make honey, sting invaders — but what’s the point?

The big, fat future of the enterprise is missing. Which means everybody’s doing a lot of gyrating, leading nowhere.

Hence, the Bears.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins , Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: ILPS10

For eight years, Jay Cutler has been the quarterback of the franchise, the lounging queen bee fed royal jelly and stroked by all his lessers. Not that Cutler hasn’t taken some very un-royal abuse, both in the press and on the field.

Indeed, he is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and his body has been beaten heavily during his 11-year pro career. He has been sacked 302 times, and it’s a good guess that about 100 of those really hurt. Maybe 10 were lights-out, a-hospital-bed-is-calling, near-crippling blasts.

Blame the hive for much of that abuse. Blame Cutler himself for some of it.

It goes without saying that we blame him for not being Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees or one of the Manning brothers. Nor has the notorious ‘‘Cutler face’’ won him many converts.

Still, what do the Bears do at this most critical of positions?

On Thursday at 3 p.m., NFL teams can start signing free agents and trading players. Cutler has a rather cheap $12.5 million due him this season if he stays with the Bears.

If the Bears were to flat-out dump him, they’d only be on the books for $2 million because his last signing bonus was prorated over the years.

Then, too, there are likely NFL teams that will be interested in cutting a deal or trading for Cutler because he’s better than anything they have aboard. The 49ers, for example, as of this moment, don’t even have a quarterback.

The Bills are one of many teams in a perplexing situation because they have to decide whether to pick up the option on quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a move that would guarantee Taylor $30.75 million for the next two seasons.

Taylor’s record as a starter is 14-14. There’s the value of plain old average in this QB-driven sport.

In fact, the Jets are said to be interested in Taylor if the Bills dump him, which means the Bills might be interested in our man Cutler.

And so it goes in the land of rumor and fabrication.

The deep question for the Bears is this: Can they improve themselves by re-signing free agent Brian Hoyer or pursuing curiously hot Mike Glennon or trading for Tom Brady understudy Jimmy Garoppolo? Or should they draft a quarterback and pray?

Or should they tread water until 2018, when UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold, among other potential stars, enter the draft?

As if that’s not confusing enough, consider that the Cowboys might release battered but skilled quarterback Tony Romo. And — here’s an insane one — no-longer-kneeling-for-the-anthem Colin Kaepernick is floating around out there without a flag in his hand, ready to maybe play ball.

Remember how he lit up the Bears on that Monday night back in 2012 in his first NFL start?

Never mind. Lots of air has passed under everybody’s wings since then.

How would Bears ticket holders feel if Cutler is the opening-day quarterback again? Believe it or not, after that dreadful 3-13 season in 2016, giving the Bears a three-year record of 14-34, management felt good enough to raise ticket prices.

Welcome to the Chicago Way, folks.

Personally, I would be depressed if Cutler trots out there again for his ninth year on the throne.

Don’t they say insanity is doing the same failing thing again and again, and expecting success?

But equally disturbing would be dumping Cutler with no plan in mind and returning to the dark days of yore when the quarterback-for-a-day chart spun like a rigged roulette wheel.

Do you recall 1996 to 2003, for hideous example?

That gave us starters Steve Walsh, Dave ‘‘Small Hands’’ Krieg, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses ‘‘Bring Down the Tablets” Moreno, Shane Matthews, Cade ‘‘God Help Us’’ McNown, Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Henry Burris and Kordell Stewart.

How about the single year of 2004?  We’re talking Rex Grossman, Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson.

You could call these periods the College of Quarterbacks or, my preference, ‘‘Why Us, Lord?’’

There are worse things than Jay Cutler at quarterback. Let us pray we don’t have to find out what that is.

Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.