Thursday, February 21, 2013
Emery stays mum on new deal for Cutler
By Michael C. Wright
New coach Marc Trestman is excited to work with Jay Cutler and help the quarterback "maximize his ability."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Having once called Jay Cutler a franchise quarterback, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery sees no problem with the new coaching staff taking a more measured approach in its assessment of the veteran player.
Speaking at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Emery also declined to discuss the possibility of a new contract for Cutler, who in 2013 enters the final year of his deal.
"The No. 1 thing is that our team wins and that Jay improves, and all of our players improve," Emery said. "I know this: our coaches are excited to work with Jay. So whether it's a matter of semantics where I'm calling somebody a franchise (player) and (the coaches) haven't said that, I'm OK with that. I know in their heart they're here to work with Jay and help Jay become a better player, and the leader on our team that helps us wins football games and wins championships."
Entering the final year of his contract, Cutler -- despite playing just four seasons with the Bears -- leads the franchise in passer rating (81.9), and completions (1,034) and ranks second in touchdown passes (82), passing yards (12,292) and completion percentage (59.6).
With a 35-23 overall record (including the postseason), Cutler is set to receive a base salary in 2013 of $8.47 million and will count $8.97 million against Chicago's dwindling salary cap. The Bears are $8.176 million under the salary cap, which isn't projected in 2013 to grow significantly.
Asked whether Cutler needed to perform in 2013 before the team would make a decision to invest in the quarterback long term, Emery said, "we're gonna work through that. When (there's) a decision on that, you'll know when it comes to that point. But I'm not going to comment on anything involving contracts, or future contracts, or current contracts, or when we're going to decide on contracts."
New Bears coach Marc Trestman said he hasn't "discussed any of that with Jay or Phil up to this point," when asked whether the club was planning to meet with Cutler's representatives about a new contract.
"I'm excited to coach Jay. I've had a couple of opportunities to talk with him on multiple levels and excited to work with him in all facets of his game. I really am," Trestman said. "He's an extremely bright guy. He loves football. He's got a great skill set. So we've got to work hard to provide him the resources so he can to maximize his ability, and that goes into everything we're doing in all three phases with the personnel department and with our coaching staff."
That could prove a daunting task with an offensive line that struggled in 2012, giving up a combined 44 sacks, and a group of receivers and tight ends in which all nine players not named Brandon Marshall combined for 112 catches, while Marshall racked up 118.
Cutler sounded comfortable about his contract situation, and didn't seem concerned with the possibility of going into the final year of his contract next season.
"We'll figure it out," Cutler told "The Waddle & Silvy Show" Wednesday on ESPN 1000. "We'll figure it out, and at some point if it happens before the season, good. If it doesn't, then we'll play the season and see what happens afterward. It's kind of at the bottom of my list."