- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Free agent quarterback Jay Cutler expressed confidence in his ability to reach an agreement with the Chicago Bears on a new multi-year contract before the start of the 2014 NFL league year on March 11.
Cutler said Monday on "The Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000 that he would be "disappointed" if the two sides were unable to strike a deal before the official start of free agency. The Bears can also place the franchise tag on Cutler between February 17 and March 3.
"I'm confident in our ability [to get a deal done], and in [Bears general manager] Phil [Emery] and [team Chairman] George [McCaskey] and everyone over there that we'll find equal ground and get it worked out," Cutler said. "I don't know when it's going to happen, and eventually, it might not happen. But we're going to take a crack at it for sure.
"I don't know if I'd be surprised [if I didn't have a deal by the start of the new league year]; maybe disappointed. But like I said, this is a business and we all know that. Everybody in that locker room knows that. We had guys [on Monday] cleaning out their locker who knew they would probably not be Bears next year. That's how it goes."
Cutler, 30, refused to divulge the exact terms he is seeking from the Bears, although it's likely a substantial raise from the $8.97 million the quarterback earned in 2013.
"I don't care what position you play; if you hit the open market you are going to make more [money] as a free agent because they overpay," Cutler said. "You're going to have a couple of teams lobbying, and if that's your goal, you'll get as much money as you possibly can but from somewhere else. Typically if you stay at home and you stay where you are at, of course, you're going to take a little bit less; just from not having to move or relocate or deal with stuff like learning new plays and new teammates. It's a business and we'll see.
If you polled quarterbacks around the league everyone wants to come here. It would be fun to stay here. Obviously I want to stay here. But it's a business."
The Bears are expected to attempt to re-sign their own free agents in earnest following their 33-28 Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The club has already extended the deals of kicker Robbie Gould and fullback Tony Fiammetta last week, but have not yet entered into formal negotiations with Cutler, the quarterback revealed on Monday.
"There were never any conversations," Cutler said. "They stuck to their mantra that they would do it after the year. I told [agent] Bus [Cook] that I don't want to get involved in something during the year. I don't want to be distracted by that. I don't want to be thinking about that. There's plenty of time afterwards. Hopefully both parties can get it done and get it resolved, or we don't."
Emery and Bears coach Marc Trestman are scheduled to hold their end of the year press conference on Thursday at Halas Hall.
4hEric D. Williams
1dBy Ian O'Connor