Bears Panned for One of ‘Worst Contracts in NFL History’

Jay Cutler

Getty The Chicago Bears have landed on a dubious list.

Jay Cutler spent eight seasons as quarterback for the Chicago Bears, coming over in a blockbuster 2009 trade with the Denver Broncos.

The Bears shipped quarterback Kyle Orton and their first- and third-round picks in 2009 (18th and 84th overall) along with their 2010 first-round selection to Denver in exchange for Cutler and a 2009 fifth-rounder. What followed was eight years full of ups and downs, with the Bears perpetually mired in mediocrity. Cutler was 51-51 in his 102 regular season starts in Chicago and 1-1 in the postseason.

While the initial trade for Cutler wasn’t universally panned, when the Bears inked the QB to a seven-year, $126.7 million contract extension in 2014 with $54 million guaranteed, many wondered why the team would give Cutler so much for so long.

He ended up getting the $54 million guaranteed in three years and was released in 2017. Looking at the deal years later, Thomas Neumann of USA Today’s Touchdown Wire has dubbed the extension one of the “worst contracts in NFL history.”

ALL the latest Bears news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Bears newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Bears!

Neumann: Cutler Kept Bears in ‘Quarterback Purgatory’

“Jay Cutler kept the Chicago Bears in quarterback purgatory for the better part of eight years by putting up slightly above-average statistics but pulling down one of the NFL’s heftiest salaries at the time,” Neumann wrote on March 16. “The biggest head-scratcher was the fact that the Bears gave Cutler this inflated deal after backup Josh McCown put up better stats during a five-game stint as Cutler’s injury replacement in 2013.”

Neumann has a point there. McCown filled in for an injured Cutler in 2013, playing in eight games and starting five. In that span, he threw for 13 touchdowns and just one interception while throwing for 1,829 yards and netting a quarterback rating of 84.5.

McCown led the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ration that year, but ex-Bears coach Marc Trestman still chose to start Cutler — and Neumann thinks the ensuing extension was made worse by what followed.

Follow the Heavy on Bears Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest Bears-related breaking news, rumors, content and more!

Cutler Holds Several Bears Passing Records

Out of the 13 contracts listed, Neumann ranked Cutler’s $127 million extension 10th worst overall.

“Cutler played out the three guaranteed seasons on the deal but was limited to five games in 2016 because of injuries,” he wrote. “During those three seasons, he registered a 64.5% completion rate with 53 touchdown passes, 34 interceptions and an 88.9 passer rating. Despite those decent numbers, the Bears stumbled to a 12-23 record with Cutler under center from 2014-16, limited in large part by one of the league’s worst defenses.”

While all that is true, Cutler did enough in his eight years to still own the majority of Chicago’s passing records.

Cutler’s 2,020 passes are the most in franchise history, and his 154 TD passes are tops all-time amongst all Bears quarterbacks. His 23,443 passing yards are also the most in team history, and no other Bears QB has come close to his 16 games throwing for more than 300 yards (the next-closest is Billy Wade, who had nine).

Ultimately, inconsistencies in his game coupled with his inability to stay on the field led to his exit. Cutler played just one full season during his tenure in Chicago: his first year in 2009. This isn’t to say the now-retired QB was a bad player, and, as Neumann also notes, “the blame for these bad deals actually lies on the various front offices that proffered the pacts.”

Still, it was a contract extension Bears Nation would likely take back if they had a say in the matter.

READ NEXT: Bears Meeting With ‘Perfect’ OL, May Have to Pay Top Dollar

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x