The Jay Cutler Conundrum

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Jay Cutler has been ruled out for a second consecutive week. Jay Cutler has been watching a career journeyman win two games that he has missed. Jay Cutler is due for a payday. Jay Cutler continues to separate fans and pundits like oil and water.

What the heck do you do with Jay Cutler?

The Chicago Bears traded everything short of Halas Hall to acquire Cutler in 2009. Since the trade, the former Denver Bronco has been on the rollercoaster of inconsistency, but has benefitted from a regime change. General Manager Phil Emery and first-year head coach Marc Trestman have dusted off the dust on the offensive play calling and have given Cutler offensive weapons and protection to thrive.

There is also the cloud of a new contract hanging over the heads of management. At age 30, Jay Cutler may be too old to be a franchise quarterback, but he is the best quarterback statistically and talent-wise since Sid Luckman. The new relationship being built between Cutler and Trestman has been refreshing to see form and has given fans a new hope for success in the next few seasons…if Cutler is around.

Josh McCown has been efficient in Cutler’s absence. In two starts and four total games, McCown is completing 60.5% of his passes, has five touchdowns compared to no turnovers, and is averaging 7.47 yards per pass. Cutler has completed 63% of passes for 13 touchdowns and 11 total turnovers. Cutler has been known to force passes and trying to put the football in spots that are dangerous. McCown knows how to not throw the Bears out of the game.

What sticks out now and has been a reason to doubt Cutler’s future with Chicago is his backup’s success in limited time. Marc Trestman has been exactly what Jay has needed to improve and change bad habits. McCown is succeeding because he knows his role (and wants you to know it) and is making the most out of what appears to be his last hurrah in the NFL. If Trestman can make McCown, a QB with a career rating below 70 into a successful passer, then why not just draft Cutler’s successor in the 2014 NFL Draft?

The 2014 Draft class has approximately 10 signal callers in the top 100 players including a handful who would be available outside of the first round. Chicago has plenty of holes to plug on both sides of the ball. Free agency can also make more spots available to fill. Is drafting a rookie QB and starting him in the cards for the Bears?

If not, there is still the option of re-signing Jay Cutler or placing the franchise tag on him. A new deal would not be the wallet-buster you would expect if Cutler was 25 as opposed to 30. A two-to-three year deal seems like something that would be better for business, but how much of a hometown discount would Cutler be willing to give. He has said that Chicago is where he sees himself, and his work with his head coach has led to positive results. The franchise tag would guarantee that Cutler would make the average salary of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. The only way that would change is if he agrees to a new deal prior to the designated deadline set for signing franchise tags to long-term deals.

The only thing clear going forward at the QB position is that whoever is taking the snaps will be given the correct coaching for success. After everything that the Bears have been through to acquire and succeed with him, it is very tough to imagine Jay Cutler anywhere but Chicago. The free agent market pretty much gives Chicago the option to sign Cutler or aim for the likes of Josh Freeman.

Enjoy the success that the offense is currently having. The offense continues to trend up, but the direction that Chicago chooses to go with at the quarterback position has yet to point anywhere.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffrotull44 for more sports and entertainment ramblings. If you play fantasy sports, check out The Fantasy Fix, where Jeff covers your add/drop/watch needs during baseball and hockey season, and does weekly podcasts, as well.

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