Franchise tag for Cutler creates potential mess for Bears

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When Bears G.M. Phil Emery recently pointed to the “unique challenges” of using the salary cap on quarterback Jay Cutler, Emery didn’t elaborate on the root of the problem.

While Emery bemoaned the fact that the franchise tender, expected to be in the range of $16 million in 2014, can’t be spread over multiple years, he sidestepped the reality that the magnitude of the tag provides the starting point for a long-term deal.

If Cutler knows he can make $16 million for 2014, how much would he want on a three-year deal?  Given that the tag for Cutler would increase, per the CBA, by 20 percent in 2015 ($19.2 million) and by 44 percent in 2016 ($27.6 million), Cutler would earn $62.8 million over three years under the franchise tag.

If at any point the Bears opt to not use the tag, Cutler would hit the open market.

That point could come even before the tag is applied once.  If the Bears don’t view him as a guy who deserves an average of $16 million or more on a multi-year deal, the Bears may choose to let the market set his value.  The problem with that approach is that Cutler may decide to take the same amount of money — or perhaps even less — to play for someone else.

With plenty of teams (including the Bears’ rivals in Minnesota) needing a proven quarterback, the Bears are faced with a problem that has no easy solution.  For now, the goal could be to get Cutler’s agent to not use the franchise tag as the starting point for a long-term deal by convincing Cutler’s agent that the franchise tag won’t be applied.

32 responses to “Franchise tag for Cutler creates potential mess for Bears

  1. Considering that QB contracts keep going up if the Vikings want to give Cutler $100 million the Bears should let him walk. He’s not a franchise changer.

  2. Giants fan here.

    Look at the Seahawks & 9ers last year. Cheap QB’s so you can spend the money elsewhere.

    Cutler will NOT lead you to a Super Bowl. Modern day Jeff George.

  3. The Bears have been spending FA. Its starting to catch up with them. There are guys that when you watch play… you can say pretty confidently they are going to win a superbowl… Young, Rodgers, Wilson, and Luck.
    l
    Cutler won’t be one of those QBs… if they want to trade for Roethisberger, or try going with McCown for another season I wouldn’t blame. I think they should draft someone they think can run the Coaches System the best… cuz whoever it would have some solid offensive weapons around him.

    As a Packer fan I welcome the idea of them giving Cutler a bunch of money.

  4. They should have traded him a long time ago. Toughest QB in the league and a lot to like except that he’s not a good value. You can’t win with that. Smart football works better. Have fun sortin’ it all out!

  5. If anybody really wants to pay Cutler among the top 5 quarterbacks in the league, go ahead. I can’t see the Bears dropping off too much with anyone else at the helm.

  6. Cutler is not worth anything in the ballpark of $63 M over next 3 years. I like Cutler to a degree, but same time what has this guy done in his career to eight year career to deserve that???

    Just look at his #’s recent and past, rated barely up above average at best. And he’s got really good weapons now, excuses have run out. Better off drafting among this rich QB class.

  7. This is not likely a long term solution, but it would be an easy one – that could serve as Band Aid.

    Josh McCown, whose contract is also about to expire at the end of the season – has performed well. If the Bears consider $63,000,000 to be too much – they could scale it back and turn the keys of the car over to McCown.

    McCown has performed well, and is “only” a few years older than Cutler – and he’d come a LOT more affordably. That would free up a lot of resources for the Bears to engineer effective roster management decisions – plus it could buy the time required to land a long term solution at QB.

    If the Bears go all in on Cutler, their cap will wrecked – and they’ll be hard-pressed to take down the San Franciscos and New Orleans and Seattles of the League.

    I will be surprised if many agree with this take, but it is an angle that Chicago could utilize if it’s determined it makes sense after a comprehensive assessment of global risk/reward.

  8. Dear Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner,

    I believe in you guys. The Trent Richardson trade was brilliant. Not trading Flash Gordon and his off the field issues but rather embracing this kid and taking him in as opposed to writing him off was even more brilliant. That being said, we need to sign this guy!

    There are two important things in football. 1.Quarterback play
    2.Getting to the quarterback.
    Last year we worked on getting to the quarterback. This offseason we need to get one.

    Cutler + Hoyer + drafting a QB to hold the clipboard for a couple of years and groom for the future = stability at the qb position. Use one of our 2 first round draft picks (preferably our 1st pick) to add a stud receiver to go with Jordan Cameron and opposite Flash Gordon. A healthy Dion Lewis and a solid RB picked later in the draft will hold down the fort in the backfield. Norv/Chud’s offense will take flight next year. This is the blueprint. We need a franchise quarterback. Go get him.

    Sincerely,
    Browns Fans

  9. they will find a way to keep him. now that they finally have a coach who believes offense is part of the game and a gm who actually gave him something that resembles a NFL caliber offensive line, along with real NFL receivers they were beginning to see the qb they traded for before he got hurt. even if you hate the guy you can’t say in all honesty he had anything besides forte to work with before this year. it’s like they looked at everything he did well in denver and said sorry we don’t do that here. they need him to run the offense and to score points while they rebuild the defense. they can’t do that with a new qb learning the system.

  10. Jay Cutler…The perfect example of being coddled too much as a baby. Who remembers that NFC championship game?

  11. Another team to join the Ben Roethlisberger bidding war?

    Between Arizona, Minnesota and now Chicago, Pittsburgh has lots af trading partners if they decide to trade Big Ben.

  12. “With plenty of teams (including the Bears’ rivals in Minnesota) needing a proven quarterback…”

    Cutler is not proven to be anything other than a mediocre quarterback that will be out 4-6 games with injuries each season. Bears need to make him a fair offer based on his past performance and be willing to let him go if he’s not happy with it.

  13. In making a decision on Butler, you have to look at his body of work in Chicago. Clearly he isn’t as good of a QB as he was in Denver. Up until this year he hasn’t had the supporting cast, either. He also has an offensive-minded head coach that could move him out of the doldrums. But his injury situation should give the Bears time to pause. Compare Cutler’s time lost to Aaron Rodgers, for example. They are the same age, yet Cutler has lost far more time than Rodgers. Having a guy who, when focused, can compete among the elite QB’s is tantalizing. But there always seems to be a problem. If I were the Bears, I would let him walk and trade for Kirk Cousins. You would have a QB capable of starting at a far cheaper price.
    But since I’m a Packers fan, I hope the whole thing blows up on the Bears and we send them to hell where they belong.
    Amen.

  14. As a Browns fan, we would gladly take him off your hands….he has a few miles left in the tank to give whoever we draft in the 1st round a couple of years to develop.

  15. Given the shortage of NFL QBs and the rules that now make it a passing league Cutler would be crazy to sign a 3 year deal at less than 50 mil or at least shop that number before doing anything. the problem is that the Bears need so much help at so many positions that a 16 mil QB does them little good right now.

  16. LET HIM GO, he’s an average mediocre QB thats worth less than 1/2 of the franchise tender cost. there has to be 20 guys available with his talent and skills.

  17. I’d say the other issue when dealing with this for the Bears is that they don’t have good options at QB, so if they let him go they’re pretty screwed next year. They need to franchise him and draft a QB to work in next year.

  18. Nobody including the Bears is going to give Cutler 16 mil for one year let alone 62 mil for 3 years. He either signs another contract with the Bears or become a free agent.

  19. I tend to believe Cutler is going to try to get a deal similar to Romo, Flacco, and Ryan ($20+ million signing bonus and $50+ million guaranteed). While I would not feel comfortable placing that kind of investment in him, it would not surprise me at all if there is a team or a number of teams willing to approach those key measures (Cleveland, Oakland, and Jacksonville come to mind). If the Bears can tag Cutler and see if they can leverage that position to get a 1st or 2nd round pick in a trade, then it might be the best option for one year. Worst case, they carry a great deal of cap space on their QB next year. Best case, they limit Cutler’s ability to negotiate a deal at the Flacco level and get him at a reasonable contract level. Next best case, they spend next to nothing on the QB spot (re-sign McCown and use the Indy 1st, Jax or Oak 2nd rounder on a QB) and use the money to fix the defensive line and solidify the offensive line.

  20. shaggytoodle says:
    Dec 5, 2013 11:35 PM
    The Bears have been spending FA. Its starting to catch up with them. There are guys that when you watch play… you can say pretty confidently they are going to win a superbowl… Young, Rodgers, Wilson, and Luck.
    l
    Cutler won’t be one of those QBs… if they want to trade for Roethisberger, or try going with McCown for another season I wouldn’t blame. I think they should draft someone they think can run the Coaches System the best… cuz whoever it would have some solid offensive weapons around him.

    As a Packer fan I welcome the idea of them giving Cutler a bunch of money

    Yea, look what it has done for your team to spend so much on one guy. Packers can’t afford others because they gave so much to Rodgers and Mathews.

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