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McCown gives Bears their best leverage for Cutler talks

McCown Getty Images

The Chicago Bears don’t want to use the franchise tag on quarterback Jay Cutler.  With Josh McCown playing as well as he is, the Bears may be able to pull it off.

While a talent gap clearly exists between Cutler and McCown, a performance gap doesn’t.  And if McCown can continue to play like he did Monday night against a talented playoff contender with a small margin for error in Chicago-style December elements, the Bears would have an extremely viable Plan B.

Which could eventually become Plan A, if the Bears win the NFC North under McCown.

With neither Cutler (who is 30) nor McCown (34) the long-term answer at the quarterback position, the best move for the Bears could be to keep McCown and have him groom a rookie drafted by Emery and coach Marc Trestman in 2014 or 2015.

Bears fans won’t be picky.  With precious few (arguably no) franchise quarterbacks since Sid Luckman, the name on the back of the jersey won’t matter, as long as the guy throwing the passes is completing them.  That’s a far easier proposition with guys like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett running the routes.

The situation could make Cutler more eager to return from his week-to-week high ankle sprain that at one point had his lower leg in a hard cast.  It also could nudge the Bears toward applying the 100-percent rule to Cutler, prompting them to wink-nod the medical staff toward not concluding Cutler is able to play for the rest of the season.

Speaking of winks and nods, a few of both could be necessary when it comes to McCown.  He signed a one-year deal in the offseason under the minimum salary benefit, which allowed the Bears to pay him $840,000 at a cap charge of only $580,000.  The Bears can’t re-sign McCown until he becomes a free agent in March.  Technically, they can’t even negotiate with McCown until he hits the market.

If McCown carries the Bears to the playoffs, Chicago may have to pay McCown more than they’d want to pay a guy to hold the spot and mentor a rookie.

That’d still be a lot less than the $60-plus million over three years that the franchise tag would generate for Cutler.  Which would give the Bears plenty of money to spend on positions other than quarterback.  Which would be in capable hands in the short term with McCown — and over the long haul with whomever Trestman and Emery regard as the best guy from the current crop (or the next crop) of rookies to run Trestman’s offense for the next decade.

If they make the right choice, Trestman and Emery become much more likely to be employed by the Bears for most or all of the next decade.

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14 Responses to “McCown gives Bears their best leverage for Cutler talks”
  1. GenXJay says: Dec 10, 2013 7:51 AM

    I cannot emphasize this enough for packer troll Carl Gerbschmidt,
    Josh McCown is Greater Than ShAaron Rodgers.

  2. joetoronto says: Dec 10, 2013 7:52 AM

    Trestman’s system doesn’t need a big name QB and the Bears don’t need to break the bank for a QB.

    Especially a guy who’s off injured all the time.

  3. redemptionssong says: Dec 10, 2013 8:02 AM

    Good bye Cutler. Trestman has implemented a system that could probably make Mark Sanchez look good.

  4. wishingtonredslur says: Dec 10, 2013 8:07 AM

    I don’t know why Chicago fans hate Cutler so much, if he had the protection McCown gets he wouldn’t have been sacked 198 (estimate) times in 2 and a half seasons. McCown is playing really well though.

  5. promickey says: Dec 10, 2013 8:14 AM

    McCown wanted to be the starter when Cam Cameron was head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Cameron did not think McCown was starter material and now we know why Cameron is out of the NFL.

  6. coachkilla6 says: Dec 10, 2013 8:14 AM

    If duh bears sign Cutler again, it’ll explain why this franchise hasn’t accomplished anything of significance in 28 years.

  7. metalhead65 says: Dec 10, 2013 8:16 AM

    he is having a career year which is nice but is not a franchise qb. would he have had the same success under turner,martz,or tice? would he have had the same success playing behind the same line and lack of weapons Cutler had? NO! it is only because of trestman and his offense which is the first one Cutler has had since he came to the Bears. there is a reason McCowan had made several stops and was out of the league before the Bears signed him. as a Bears fan I am happy he is doing good right now but they need Cutler if they are going to do anything in the playoffs. I think he will sign a team friendly 3 year deal rather than start over again with another team. they need him to run the offense and score points while they rebuild the defense.

  8. spankygreen says: Dec 10, 2013 8:22 AM

    Note to Bears front office…….don’t get overly excited about McCown…..(see Matt Flynn……)

  9. howiehandles says: Dec 10, 2013 8:55 AM

    If they didn’t have so many holes on defense, I’d re-sign McCown, and draft a young QB by about round 3, maybe even 2 if their guy is there. But they need help on the D-line, DB, and a C.

    I’d bet their re-sign Cutler and McCown, but who knows. I’ve been a big backer of Cutler, but he’s no Spring chicken, and he’s getting injured with regularity.

  10. turtlehut says: Dec 10, 2013 9:20 AM

    Jay Cutler is this generation’s Jeff George – and the strange thing they both played their high school ball in Indiana – think it’s the water?

  11. mblue24 says: Dec 10, 2013 9:53 AM

    Tell Cutler Goodbye!!

  12. jrmbadger says: Dec 10, 2013 10:41 AM

    GenXJay says:Dec 10, 2013 7:51 AM

    I cannot emphasize this enough for packer troll Carl Gerbschmidt,
    Josh McCown is Greater Than ShAaron Rodgers.
    ======================

    I have to agree with you that McCown is better than some woman named Sharon Rodgers at playing quarterback.

    As for Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers, that’s another matter.

  13. realfootballfan says: Dec 10, 2013 11:01 AM

    Cutler is done in Chicago. The only question is whether to get rid of his bff, Marshall, quickly in order to save yourself the headache from his whining when Cutler gets the boot.

  14. beardownfromcali says: Dec 10, 2013 3:13 PM

    Flynn was ONE GAME!!! McCown has played consistently for FIVE!!!

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