Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is under contractual control through the 2013 season, but the organization will likely look to extend him sooner rather than later. Cutler is due base salaries of $7.7 million in 2012 and $8.47 million the following season. He can be an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
In an interview with Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune Wednesday, Cutler acknowledged that he paid attention to the Saints’ contract deliberations with Drew Brees, which netted New Orleans’ quarterback the richest deal in league history.
“If you win Super Bowls, if you get to the playoffs repeatedly and you have continued success, the quarterback is going to get paid,” said Cutler. “That’s just how it is. That’s how the league has evolved. When it’s my time, we’ll see what happens.”
Cutler hasn’t had the same kind of postseason success as Brees, but he did engineer an NFC Championship Game berth in 2010. He could increase his negotiating leverage with another playoff run in 2012.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher supports Cutler and expects the organization to lock him up long term.
“He’s played well enough to be taken care of,” said the Bears’ captain. “They thought enough to bring him in here for two first-round picks. Then they paid him. And I think they should pay him again.
“I think he’s awesome. He makes our team better. You saw how important he was to our team when he wasn’t in there.”
Urlacher makes a fair point. After Cutler’s season-ending hand injury in 2011, the Bears lost five straight games following a 7-3 start, and missed the playoffs. And that development underlined Cutler’s value to the club.