LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears have made a long-term commitment to Jay Cutler, signing the veteran quarterback to a seven-year contract, general manager Phil Emery announced Thursday at Halas Hall.

“We’re very excited to have Jay for the long term,” Emery said. “He battled through the tough times and kept fighting.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We’re pleased, it works for both parties,” Emery said of the deal. “lt rewards Jay and it enables us to continue to build a championship team.”

Cutler said “it’s been a fun ride” with the Bears and that he’s convinced the organization is headed in the right direction.”

Cutler thanked the team and also his wife, Kristin Cavallari, who joined him at the news conference, and cited her desire to remain in Chicago. He said getting married and having a son “helped me mature.”

Asked about the size of the deal and whether he could have pursued more money elsewhere, Cutler said, “You get to the point where it’s, ‘What’s the most important part of your career? ... Dollars? ... Championships?’ We’re here to win.

“We reached the amount of money that we’re going to be taken care of. ... Whether it’s $15 million or it’s $22 million, it’s hard to spend all that in your lifetime.”

Cutler then drew laughs by adding, “Kristin said she’ll help.”

The team also signed corneback Tim Jennings and left guard Matt Slauson, Emery said, adding that the majority of the work on all three contracts was done in the last three days.

Emery said the signings put the team on a “road map to go forward and win championships.”

After reciting some of Cutler’s 2013 statistics (2,621 yards passing, 63.1 completion percentage, 19 touchdowns, 89.2 passer rating), Emery said, “I see improvement in his ball security, distribution to his targets and a transformation in his demeanor as a leader.”

Emery said Cutler’s contract was “a key deal as far as how we manage our salary cap,” which is why the team moved quickly.

“I think both parties wanted it to happen, which is why it was able to happen in such a short time frame,” Emery said, adding that he finalized his decision after seeing how well Cutler handled the pregame pressure and in-game adversity when he returned from injury to help the Bears beat the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 15.

Calling Cutler “a quarterback we can win with,” Emery said, “Jay doesn’t have to be better than Aaron Rodgers. Our team has to be better than the Green Bay Packers.”

Cutler, asked if he knew he was being evaluated for his off-the-field behavior by Emery: “I was, but I wasn’t going to not be myself and put on an act.”

Cutler likened his relationship with coach Marc Trestman to a marriage and said, “I’m happy to be married to him for seven more years.”

Asked about the speed with which the deal was done, Cutler said, “When both sides have equal footing and want to get things done,” it can come together quickly.

“I’m happy we got it done,” Cutler said.

Cutler acknowledged his many critics, saying, “Moving forward there will definitely be people that say this is the wrong move. That’s fine. The people in this building will stick together and keep going in the direction that is right.”

Asked about bringing back reserve quarterback Josh McCown, who will be a free agent, Emery said the Bears “would love to have Josh back. He has earned the right through his play to have choices.”

In all, 28 Bears players entered the offseason with contracts that were set to expire in March, leaving Emery and Trestman to adjust their blueprint for how to build and overhaul the roster to improve on the season’s 8-8 record.

Asked about the team’s remaining cap space after the Cutler deal, Emery said: “We’ll have enough space to be competitive and do the things we need to do.”

Emery cited positives from the season, among them resiliency as a group and players believing in/supporting one another.

“We are a team,” Emery said.

Speaking of Trestman, Emery said, “I’m very happy with the transition to Marc and his staff. ... He’s an excellent teacher.”

Citing other positives, Emery said he feels “very good about the development of our O-line” and said he “saw Brandon Marshall take big steps toward overall leadership.”

Emery also said he is “very happy and optimistic about the long-term future of the draft class.”

But the Bears GM accepted blame for the struggles of the defense.

“We had a lot of tough days defensively,” he said. “There are no excuses for it.

Referring to the many injuries on defense, Emery said, “Did we have enough depth to win football games? No. ... We want a physical, fast, playmaking defense. ... .I saw that in the first three games. We were creating turnovers.”

Regarding defensive lineman Shea McClellin, Emery said: “He did not have enough impact plays” and left open the possibility that he could shift to linebacker.

Emery also mentioned Lance Briggs, who Wednesday expressed frustration with the Bears performance. “We share in that frustration and anger,” Emery said.

Emery voiced support for Briggs, saying he “still has the magical burst you have to have” and that the Bears “have to fill in around him.”

Asked about high-priced defensive end Julius Peppers, Emery said, “He’s under contract. Julius had an 8-8 year like we all did.”

Addressing the aging of the defense, Emery said, “We’re going to have to draft to get younger. It doesn’t have anything to do with (Charles) Tillman, (D.J.) Williams or Lance Briggs.”

As for how he plans to make things better, Emery said, “You bounce back by evaluating your team thoroughly ... and having a personal vengeance to getting it done.”

When Emery turned the microphone over to Trestman, the coach expressed regret at the Bears’ failure to win the NFC North but said, “I can honestly say I have never enjoyed coaching a bunch of men more than this group.”

Trestman also talked about the team’s defensive shortcomings and said the blame starts with him rather than beleaguered defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Trestman said he and Emery together would make decisions about the coaching staff.

Jennings rallied to Tucker’s defense while answering questions about his new contract.

“He has the full support of the defense,” Jennings said. “In our (defensive backs) room, linebackers, all over. It was just unfortunate” with all the injuries the unit suffered.

Trestman said safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright were too inconsistent, adding that “I think they would be their own worst critics.”

Trestman sought to clear up what happened on the Packers’ game-winning touchdown pass in Sunday’s season finale, saying that Conte didn’t get the correct defensive call and was in a zone while the rest of the unit was in man-to-man.

Trestman also left open the possibility of changing from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4, saying “we know we have the intellect in this building.”

Speaking of 2012 first-round pick McClellin, Trestman said, “Shea is capable of more, and it’s our responsibility as coaches to get that out of him. ... We’ll look hard at Shea doing things other than lining up at defensive end.”

© Chicago Tribune; Distributed by MCT Information Services 

Cutler’s stats

Jay Cutler’s NFL statistics through eight seasons.

Key: GS – games started; Pct. – completion percentage; TD – touchdown passes; INT – interceptions; Rating – passer rating; Record – team’s record in his starts. * - led the league.

Source: pro-football-reference.com

Year Team GS Pct. TD INT Rating Record
2006 Denver 5 59.1 9 6 88.5 2-3
2007 Denver 16 63.6 20 14 88.1 7-9
2008 Denver 16 62.3 25 18 86.0 8-8
2009 Chicago 16 60.5 27 26* 76.8 7-9
2010 Chicago 15 60.4 23 16 86.3 10-5
2011 Chicago 10 58.0 13 7 85.7 7-3
2012 Chicago 15 58.8 19 14 81.3 10-5
2013 Chicago 11 63.1 19 12 89.2 5-6

More from pantagraph.com

(23) comments

gohawks86

Happy for the signing. I'm glad they got it done quickly, so now emery and trestman can start working on the defense.

Market Street Lover

Oh no!!! Say it isn't so!!! 7 more years of disappointment!! 7 more years of a quarterback getting hurt!!! 7 more years of losing to that team from the north!! 7 more years of watching him try and get that crink out of his neck!!! 7 more years of me trying to get that pain out of my butt!!
No wonder Trestman goes for a field goal on 2nd down!!! Why me??????

gohawks86

Nfl contracts don't work the same way as other sports. The number to look at is the guaranteed money. He got 54 mil in guaranteed (just so happens to be urlachers old number). Basically meaning they're guaranteeing him 54 mil of the 126 mil. So if he sucks they could drop him after 3 years.

Market Street Lover

I guess I could suck for 54 mil!

SDog

What do you mean "if he sucks". He already sucks, always has and always will.

At best, Cutler is the 12th best QB in the NFL. CBS has him at 14 and ESPN at 15.

The reports I heard on TV today was that a number of the players didn't want him back. Maybe the Bears are going to clean house and build around him. Good luck with that.

Chadwick Snow

Cutler would have been the number one free agent quarterback. It's risky but they would be taking a few steps backward had they not signed him.

realitycheck

I think what the Bears are saying is, we're not trying to win an NFC North title until 2021. Good news for the rest of the NFC North. 7 years, but after you subtract January's when the Bears aren't playing, it averages out to 6 years. Loved when ESPN reported that one of the things the Bears liked was "his toughness". What?? Check his record for missing games, might want to rethink that one. Oh come on, if you don't laugh, it just sounds mean.

allthatglitters

Just repeating what you heard someone else say? Heard that on Twitter already. Have any original opinions?

gohawks86

The amount of times he has been hit and continued to play in the game, shows his toughness. Yeah he's missed a couple games, but I've seen him take some hits that most people wouldn't get up from. I listen to a lot of sports radio and when they interview other players, that is one thing they point out. So it's not just management saying it, it is his teammates as well.

I don't get where you guys are getting that they're just gonna be terrible. Cutler has a great record as a bears quarterback. What is he like 39 and 28? I'd say that's pretty good.

He's also been the best quarterback the bears have ever had, statistically so why does everyone think he's terrible? Is it just because of his attitude?

He's going to be the 7th highest paid quarterback. And I would go out there and say that's pretty fair to say. I can only name 7 qbs I'd rather have.

HeyMan

I agree with gohawks. I really don't understand how anyone could question his toughness. The guy took an absolute beating his first couple of years here and kept getting up. The two seasons where he missed time, he broke his thumb (on his throwing hand) and tore his groin.
Love this signing. He FINALLY gets to work a 2nd season with all the necessary pieces in place. Good TE, good line, stud receivers and RB, and a REALLY smart coach. If the Bears can fix some things on defense (and that's a TALL order), we could be a force in 2014!

wkendguy

Why play a QB with a Rating of 118, when you have one with an 89. This happened a few years back when Kyle Orton QB'd most of the season, and was benched the final game for the starting QB came back. They replayed that again this year.

Market Street Lover

wkendguy,you are so right

gohawks86

Just give the man a chance to work with the same offensive coach for more than 1 year. This year he had his first year with trestman and had his best year offensively thus far.

McCown played well against the worst defenses. Let's not forget that he did lose to the Vikings and the rams.

Lexington Dude

Folks, there is no aruging with the Cutler haters. ESPN and all of their Twitter/Facebook friends have made up their minds for them. Honestly, fans like these are why Chicago sports fans as a whole have a bad repuatation. They run their mouths (or keyboards in this case) and find scapegoats as opposed to looking at the real issues.

The default in Chicago has always been to blame the QB, because the Bears have never had one and have always been bailed out by the defense. This year was the other way around. Is Cutler a jerk sometimes and stomp around, yell, etc? Yes. So did Ditka. Does he get hurt? Yeah. You get sacked/hit as much as he does and try to get up. Does he throw some interceptions? Yeah. So did Farve. It's because he takes chances and more times than not, they payoff big time.

Cutler had his best season and will FINALLY get to have the same HC, OC, and offensive weapons (notice that's "weapons" and not "weapon" for once) for more than one year. Next year has a ton of potential if the D is fixed.

BTW... if Conte doesn't try to jump the route and leave a man wide open on the final TD play against the Pack last week, the Bears win and go to the playoffs. If Robbie Gould doesn't miss that FG against the Vikings, the Bears win and go to the playoffs. If your beloved Josh McCown figures out how to score more than 20 points against the Vikings, the Bears win and go to the playoffs. If the Bears defense could stop ANYONE (45 points against the Redskins and 42 points against the Rams??), the Bears go to the playoffs.

Final words... if you all hate Cutler so much, and the Bears for signing him, PLEASE.... go cheer for another team. REAL Chicago fans support the team no matter what. If you want to cheer for one team member or be a fairweather fan, the Broncos, Patriots, and Packers could use some more fans. Chicago is home to REAL fans.

Rant ended...

gohawks86

Haha I don't have twitter. Is it illegal to have the same opinion as someone else? I know there's plenty of people on here that have the same opinion as other people on twitter.

I just think that the guy is a good quarterback. I don't think he's gotten a fair chance. Fans of the bears were once calling for Caleb Hanie to be their next quarterback after Jay tore his mcl in the championship. Well guess what? The bears were in a position to win the NFC north that next year (7-3)cutler got hurt trying to tackle a guy and the bears missed out on the playoffs. Finished 8-8.

So I guess Caleb wasn't the answer? Now people are calling for Josh McCown. Who on the bears has inflated stats because of the bad defenses he played against. A guy that has had multiple chances to start elsewhere and wasn't good enough.

Before he was on the bears he was coaching high school football. Makes you wonder why no other teams were interested? He just isn't all that good.

Bears need to fix the defense. A decent defense would be all they need with this offense. It doesn't have to be great, just average.

Right57

The quote below is from a GM who is in denial and his own words describes Culter as not being a top ranking quarterback.
"Calling Cutler “a quarterback we can win with,” Emery said, “Jay doesn’t have to be better than Aaron Rodgers. Our team has to be better than the Green Bay Packers.”
In regular season games Rodgers is 8-2 against the Bears, in regular season games Culter is
1-9 against the Packers. I am not a Bears or Packers fan, just stating the obvious. This has to be great news for Packer fans. Hopefully the Bears will find their way in 2021.

Lexington Dude

Why do people always say a player has a record against a team? Your statement says Jay Cutler lost 9 out of 10 games all alone against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers won 8 out of 10 games against the Bears all alone. Rodgers caught all of his own passes in those games? He played all 11 positions on defense? He blocked for himself and handed the ball of to himself? My main point is this is a team game and people need to stop blaming Cutler (or any one player) for the Bears' lack of a playoff run.

Right57

Most successful teams have an outstanding quarterback, Cutler is not and never will be one. End of story.

LRiley
LRiley

where did you get that Cutler will never be outstanding? from your crystal ball?

hey - I look at it this way....the dude actually has a fighting chance now. how many years did we watch Cutler go through a new scheme, with sub par weapons? he's already shown improvement this year and to me that shows that his arrow is pointing up, for now. with another year of the same offense, a capable offensive coach, and an oline that gave up the 4 fewest sacks, I think he's got a fair shot to excel. 2014 should be an exciting year to watch if the D shows up.

gohawks86

You could also argue that jay cutler had a better game than aaron Rodgers in this past game. Rodgers threw 2 picks (should have been 3 if conte could catch on the 3rd). Cutler threw one on the Hail Mary.

So even if you think cutler played worse than Rodgers, it's tough to argue that they shouldn't have won that game. The defense failed the bears.

The bears have a ton of talent on offense, a lot more than a lot of teams. So no, cutler does not need to play better, the team does, including defense.

One thing that no one has mentioned. Has anyone considered that there isn't all that much time left for the core of their offense? How many years does it take to draft a qb and turn him into a great qb? 3 or 4 years?

So forte would be 33, Marshall would be 34.

Maybe they signed jay because they need to win now, and don't have time to develop someone? Jay gives them the best shot to win now.

Lexington Dude

they have more offensive talent than every NFL team other than the Broncos since that is the only team that scored more points than the Bears this year

realitycheck

Hey, I'm not a Bears fan and I'm not a Bears hater. I was making jokes, lighten up and enjoy life. If you want to see mean comments about the signing, take a look at the comments on the Tribune. To be honest, I'm happy the Bears signed Cutler, maybe not has happy as the other teams in the NFC North but still happy. I actually feel bad for you that he is the best QB the Bears have ever had (as was stated by another Bears fan). His passer rating was 13th best in the NFL this season. Probably would have been lower if he played every game. I enjoyed watching Cutler's first game back with my son. We had a bet how soon he would throw an interception. We didn't have to wait long for that to happen. See you next season.........

WalterK

If they really wanted to, based off "stats", they could have let Cutler go and let McCown be the starter....

Problem is everyone wants a Manning, Breese, Brady, and the truth is there is just aren't that many that can perform at that level and even those guys have had issues "winning" in the past.

It's the right decision for the Bears because with a new head coach you need to keep as much consistency as possible to have a fighting chance at a winning record. Because at the end of the day it really doesn't matter as long as the stands are full and the TV guys keep dishing out the $$. It's an entertainment industry folks. Has no real intrinsic value other to provide social bonding.

The bigger issue should be the fact that a single man is being paid $54 MILLION dollars to play a game while we have kids starving, retirees without pensions, bankrupt government, etc, etc. There should be a 95% entertainment tax on ALL those folks, athletes, actors, etc.

The entire industry is such a waste really.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.