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Twitter mailbag: Pondering a Mike Shanahan-Jay Cutler reunion

1/2/2015

It's wild-card weekend, and Chicago Bears fans get to sit around for the fifth consecutive year watching teams other than their own participate, as the organization continues to sift through candidates for its general manager and head coach openings.

As you sit down and prepare to watch Saturday's offerings, here's a mailbag for you to peruse covering a variety of subjects regarding the Bears.

Thanks everyone for participating.


@mikecwright: Glad you asked that question because we need to debunk myths regarding Mike Shanahan. While he deserves plenty of credit for winning a pair of Super Bowl titles in Denver, let's not anoint him as Vince Lombardi. You mentioned that "if anyone can do something with Cutler, it's him." My question to you would be: What did he do? In three seasons with Jay Cutler (2006-08), the Broncos never made the playoffs and posted a 17-20 record. In fact, I'd venture to say that Shanahan really hasn't done much in terms of winning without John Elway. Shanahan's record with Elway as the quarterback is 47-17 in four seasons (1995-98). Take those four years with Elway out of Shanahan's regular-season record, and he's sitting at 123-121 over 16 seasons at the helm with only one playoff victory (2012). So while I understand people's fascination with Shanahan, you have to admit that Elway has a lot to do with the coach's 170-138 regular-season record. Great quarterbacks tend to do that.


@mikecwright: I'll let team chairman George McCaskey answer that question for you because we definitely asked after the team announced the firings of Phil Emery and Marc Trestman. Here's what he had to say: "We feel that the structure we have is a good one, with the head coach reporting to the general manager, the general manager reporting to the president, and the president reporting to the chairman. But if that needed adjustment in order to get the right person, we wouldn't foreclose that possibility." Now, the second part of that certainly makes sense. But remember, McCaskey spoke quite a bit that same day about the need to maintain the club's "tradition," which leads me to believe he'd like for things to stay the same in terms of the organizational hierarchy. What's interesting to me is McCaskey wants to keep this "tradition". Last I checked, this franchise has only one Super Bowl title. It's tradition that times have and always will change, and I think until the organization gets on board with that, you won't see much different from what we've continued to see over the years.


@mikecwright: Appreciate the kind thoughts. I was about a heartbeat away from roundhouse-kicking the television. Getting to your question, I believe trading Cutler is a viable option. I also believe that there will be a market for him. But you can't ignore Cutler's contract. He's fully guaranteed $15.5 million for 2015, and another $10 million of his salary is guaranteed for 2016 if he remains on the roster on the third day of the new league year. So if the plan is to move Cutler, the organization needs to get cracking. But given the fact teams around the league know the Bears might be looking to move Cutler, the team probably won't get proper value in a trade for the quarterback. So then it becomes a question of how motivated Chicago is to move on. It's impossible to know the answer without a power structure in place. Things will become clearer once the Bears hire the new general manager and new head coach. But I do know for a fact that at least two of the candidates who interviewed for the head coaching job prior to the Trestman hiring didn't want Cutler as the team's quarterback. One of them mentioned it to Emery during the interview process, which basically squashed his bid for the job.


@mikecwright: The problem is defensive tackles -- especially players the caliber of Ndamukong Suh -- command big money in free agency, and the Bears will be a little cash strapped due in part to the cap hit associated with Cutler's deal. Last April, I remember asking Emery and one of the current GM candidates whether they'd trade for Suh if it were financially feasible, and both unequivocally said yes, citing the difficulty of finding dominant interior defenders. Just for comparison's sake, Linval Joseph signed a five-year deal worth $31.5 million last year in free agency with Minnesota. Former Bear Henry Melton signed a four-year, $29 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Paul Soliai received $33 million over five years in Atlanta. None of those players is the special talent Suh is. My guess is Suh will receive a deal similar to the six-year, $100 million extension J.J. Watt signed with the Houston Texans.


@mikecwright: I think it depends on how much McCaskey plans to defer to recently hired consultant Ernie Accorsi. McCaskey recently mentioned: "The conventional timeline is to hire the general manager first. But Ernie has already advised us that if we see the right guy out there as a head coach, we need to be prepared to move quickly to get him." So if McCaskey adheres to that, the Bears won't hesitate to go unconventional if it means acquiring the coach they want because you obviously know there will be plenty of competition between the teams in trying to lure these candidates.