The Bears go up against the Dallas Cowboys tonight on Monday Night Football, facing the biggest test of their season.
If the Bears win, the Jay Cutler contract is held off for another week; at least, I won’t be thinking about it.
The problem with Cutler right now isn’t that he’s not on the field. It’s that he’s depending on Josh McCown to keep his potential seasons to come, with the Bears, alive. I don’t want to see Cutler play when he’s hurt; the Lions game should show you why. However, if McCown and his squad come out with a loss, the Bears season is more than likely over. On top of this unfortunate news, the story for the rest of the season revolves around Cutler.
Should he receive the franchise tag or be given the long-term contract?
I don’t think Cutler deserves to be around with the Bears after this season, but what other options do they have (rhetorical question)? This Bears offense, under McCown, has shown it needs a QB who gets the ball out of his hands quickly and makes smart decisions. Now, I’m not saying McCown is the answer. The Bears need a quarterback who can also put some more points on the board. The Bears average 22.7 points per game under McCown and 28.7 with Cutler.
They’re not going to be able to find a QB with this ability quickly; it’s going to have to come in the draft. Thus, sticking Cutler with the franchise tag doesn’t seem like the worst scenario. Yet, it would put the Bears in some cap space issues.
Cutler would make around $17 million if he got tagged. That’s a heavy price for anyone to pay. It also doesn’t allow the Bears to go out and make many moves this offseason.
There’s one solution to all of these problems.
McCown wins tonight, and Cutler starts the rest of the season. If you’re Cutler, you have nothing to lose with gutting it out under center if the Bears beat the Cowboys. If the Bears make the playoffs, all of the credit goes to him down the stretch. If not and Cutler has a bad game or two, he can claim he wasn’t healthy. Cutler has to be starting next Sunday versus the Browns, though.
If this scenario happens, I think Cutler and the Bears will reach an agreement on a new contract. If the Bears lose to Dallas, I could see Cutler milking this injury because he has nothing to play for; he wants to be healthy for next season because he likely wouldn’t be with the Bears.
In my mind, the Bears need to win these next four games and finish 10-6 to make the playoffs. The Lions could finish 9-7; even if the Bears finish with that record as well and “tie” for the division, they wouldn’t win the division with the Lions holding the tiebreaker (2-0 vs. the Bears). Detroit could also win their next three games, and the division would be theirs, regardless of the rest of the Bears season. It’s up to Lions on how they want this to go down.
Here’s the mindset Emery and the rest of the Bears organization should go with. If Cutler guides the Bears to a 10-6 record down the stretch, give him the contract, regardless of making or missing the playoffs. If not, the Bears should draft a quarterback of the future and continue to start McCown next season, until the youngster is ready.
BEAR DOWN TONIGHT. Please.