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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
George McCaskey pulling for Cutler

ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey said he would be happy if quarterback Jay Cutler, in the final year of his deal, follows the path of Joe Flacco, who cashed in on his contract year with a Super Bowl win last season.

"If Jay Cutler has a Joe Flacco year and wins the Super Bowl and has that kind of leverage going into contract negotiations next year, that would be just fine with me," McCaskey said Wednesday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000.

Flacco played out his deal during the 2012 season and led the Baltimore Ravens to a victory in the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers, capping a remarkable playoff run with the Super Bowl MVP. Flacco was rewarded with a six-year, $120.6 million deal, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said at the beginning of training camp that the team will not agree to extensions with any of its players, including Cutler, until after the season.

"It was an honest statement, where we're at as far as the room we have under the cap moving forward this fall," Emery said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "There's not a lot of room there. We have a number of key starters that are up after this season, so the honest situation is we won't be able to do [it] and we're not inclined to do it because of that reason this year. So we're going to stay very focused. I wanted to go in and say it, so it doesn't become an issue down the road and we can all focus on 2013."

Cutler said at the start of camp that he's OK with the Bears' policy.

"I haven't really talked about any of my contracts in my career, and I'm not really going to start now," he said. "We'll play it out, and however it's supposed to go, it's going to work out."

Like McCaskey, Emery is willing to take the risk on a bigger payday for Cutler.

"I guess if you're saying an enormous amount of leverage [for Cutler], that means we've had a great season," Emery said July 26. "That's a problem I look forward to."

Cutler will have to make a big leap if he is to pull off a Flacco-like season. Cutler has just one playoff appearance in his seven seasons. He led the Bears to a playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 but was injured just before halftime of a loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

Emery, in his second season as general manager, invested free-agent money and draft picks to upgrade the offensive line and better protect Cutler this season. The Bears signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson in free agency and selected guard Kyle Long with the 20th pick of the NFL draft in April.

Not all of the players seemed happy with Emery's stance on extensions. Kicker Robbie Gould said the team doesn't have leverage and could end up paying more if the players have big seasons.

"It's been stated that some of our players will have leverage. Hey, if all of our players do very well and we're in a position where we won at a high level and we're moving toward our goals, those are all very good problems to have," Emery said Wednesday. "We're not going to stop our players from having opinions. Robbie is somebody that I really respect and enjoy being around. That's OK. He was just reacting to what I said, and Robbie and I are good; there are no issues there. I certainly respect him as a player and a person and [am] looking forward to him having a big season."