Cutler deal was driven by the franchise tag


Now that the full details of the Cutler deal have been unearthed, it’s time to make sense of it.

The easy, and thus likely the accurate, explanation is that the deal was driven by the franchise tag for quarterbacks, and not by the other contracts at the top of the quarterback market, which currently exceed $20 million per year.

With the franchise-tag number expected to by $16 million in 2014, the Bears and Cutler’s agent likely calculated what Cutler would receive over three years of the franchise tag (roughly $62 million) and applied a discount to account for the risk of injury and ineffectiveness that Cutler would be assuming if he opted to play year-by-year under the franchise tag.

In the end, they agreed that Cutler should get $54 million over three years, an $8 million reduction in his likely three-year franchise-tag take.

This development comes only weeks after G.M. Phil Emery publicly balked at the notion of devoting $16 million in cap dollars to Cutler under the franchise tag.  Instead, Cutler will account for a whopping $22.5 million under the cap in 2014.

So why did the Bears essentially cry uncle on this one?  If they hadn’t done a deal that reflected a fair discount to the $62 million Cutler would have earned over the next three years under the franchise tag, they would have had to use the tag — setting the stage for paying Cutler $35 million over the next two years and then walking away unless they wanted to give him $27 million in 2016.

And if they hadn’t used the tag, allowing Cutler to test the market, there’s a chance someone else would have offered more than $54 million over three years.  There’s also a chance Cutler would have taken less with another team, just to prove to the Bears and every other team that the bird in the hand should not be given a chance to use its wings.

24 responses to “Cutler deal was driven by the franchise tag

  1. wasted money, he is the glass man of quarterbacks. he will be hurt again next year and miss at least 6 games just like every year before.

  2. It’s absolutely ludicrous that teams are allowing themselves to be held hostage by average quarterbacks.
    There are only four QBs in the league — Brady, Brees, Rodgers and Manning — who are even remotely worth $100 million contracts. All the other QBs can be, and have been, replaced, with their respective teams hardly noticing they weren’t in the lineup.
    I’m willing to bet that this season’s Super Bowl will once again be won by a team with a non-elite quarterback.
    I’m looking forward to a Nick Foles/Alex Smith Super Bowl. It’ll be fun to watch ESPN and the NFLN explain how that could’ve possibly happened…

  3. I disagree. This was driven by the GM and the GM’s lack of strategy. If they wanted Cutler long-term, they had other opportunities to do a deal earlier, or they could have traded him instead of signing him. There was a earlier preparation to retain choice, a trade choice, and this one. This was driven by the GM’s strategy plan, not the franchise tag. He chose to make it about the franchise tag, thus this deal was driven by he and his planning process. Which I think was not very good.

  4. Let’s keep our facts straight — Emery wasn’t hesitant to use the tag because he was afraid of guaranteeing $16 million for a year. He said it wasn’t ideal because that amount of money makes it hard to build a team around a QB when you don’t have any certainty about whether the QB will be sticking around for the future.

    Now the Bears have certainty, which is great. The offense can keep growing, and Emery knows how much he has available to fix the defense through free agency and the draft.

  5. Maybe I’m forgetting something, but is there an example of a franchise player leaving money on the table when signing the largest contract of their career in order to leave their team. Almost every article about Cutler’s contract ended with the idea that Cutler might take less money from another team, which always seemed ludicrous to me. Maybe if J-Webb nation was still “protecting” his blind side and Hester was his number one receiver, but not with the current bears offense.

  6. People are allowing their distain for Cutler to cloud sound judgement. I’ll be the first to state that I am not a big Cutler fan. I believe he’s the most talented QB the Bears have had in decades, yes.
    What people have to understand is the fact that Cutler came to the Bears with very little to work with! No coaches capable of helping him develop, no system in place that utilized his talents to their potential, and NO supporting cast AT ALL to help him move this offense forward! He spent his first 4 years on his back behind some of the worst offensive line’s in the NFL.
    Now, you actually have a legit system in place, he has players around him to work with and he has an offensive line that actually can protect him. All this came to be THIS YEAR. And, under Marc Trestman’s mentorship, Cutler has made notable improvements. This offense was one of the top offenses in the NFL this year! I don’t think any player is worthy of a contract such as Cutler’s, absolutely not. However, I’m putting my faith in Marc Trestman’s hands with this one. Trestman’s track record merit’s that and Cutler’s improvement this year does as well. I’d rather win than have to be right here. Phil Emery did the right thing here by keeping Cutler here….

  7. Its funny that average football fans with mediocre QB in their football teams. Wish there team had a strong arm in your face QB like cutler. Our offense is set, we can put up numbers with the best, now it time for the defense to rise and it will happen. In P. Emery i trust.

  8. Question… How many of us are in the market for a QB? NONE; so why do so many want to comment on Cutler being paid too much? Another question… What is the going rate for franchise QBs nowadays? Cutler got paid the going rate so who are any of us to NOT LIKE it?

  9. Crisis Averted

    I’ll take a very frustrating good Jay/bad Jay combination over what many naysayer’s favorite teams have going for them.

    What would you rather have?

    A veteran QB with a very high ceiling and a very low floor?

    A QB who sucks most of the time?

    Not even knowing who is going to be the starter next year? (Remember, for every Russell Wilson in a given draft, there are 10 Christian Ponders)

  10. Cutler got a good deal nobody noticed that our offense wamis 10x better with cutlers arm all he nexts to do is pass the ball to someone be sides brandon we have 3 6’4 wr brandon alshon nd wilson all who will be our wr corps next year if cutler uses everyone on the team wr te nd fb nd rb we are set denfense will be better I bet on that

  11. browngrizzly says: Jan 3, 2014 2:13 PM

    Its funny that average football fans with mediocre QB in their football teams. Wish there team had a strong arm in your face QB like cutler.
    What were the Bears supposed to do in this situation? Let Cutler walk? I watched 16 games of Pryor, McGloin, and Flynn this past season. Cutler isn’t a top 5 guy, but I’d take him in a heartbeat over anything the Raiders have, can hope to have, or draft next season.

  12. Great business move by the Bears. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand football. He has three years guaranteed; the final four are all team options with DECLINING salary. He can be cut at any time in those final four years without a cap hit. Instead of a signing bonus, he gets 18 mil in the first year, which makes things even more cap-friendly and is really close to the franchise tag number anyway. He also has injury escalators in the contract. Smart move.

    If the Bears also draft a QB or two in the next three years, Trestman can do solid work with him, while Jay serves as a more than serviceable quarterback. Same ol Jay in three years? Cut him for no penalty.

  13. In the end it is not my money. I’m glad that they didn’t franchise tag Cutler though. That would be to much money or an average at best QB. I do understand that Cutler is the best available (known commodity), compared to other FA on the market. The best chance of replacing Cutler will be in the draft, and Chicago now has three years to find that guy.
    It will be interesting to see Cutler in a second year offensive system.

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