Heading into the last year of his contract, and having contract talks put on hold since the arrival of Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler has a lot at stake in 2013. So, with the contract situation hanging over his head, Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago believes Cutler won't let it get to him as he pursues a new deal.
If Cutler has a great season for the Bears in 2013 he can expect to sign a new deal in the range of $18-$20 million per year. But even if he plays his way out of Chicago, a team out there will pick him up and give the quarterback around $15 million per season.
I'm not sure which team out there would pay $15 million per season - a nearly two-times cap hit on what Cutler's making this season - for a guy that will have (assuming a failure this year) failed to produce under four offensive schemes (Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Marc Trestman) with an offensive line that's been attempted to be improved, with a receiver corps improved by bringing over his favorite target and investing in a second-round pick for a #2. At that point, you'd be paying for the same thing you're currently getting right now.
But that being said, the $15 million per year contract is essentially what the 25-year-old Matthew Stafford signed. Cutler's 30. I think Cutler would indeed find another starting job, but it would be in the mold of a bigger-armed Jeff Garcia as opposed to being a franchise quarterback. If Cutler's going to get $15 million to quarterback in 2014, he still needs to have a good season.
So while I'm sure Cutler wants to earn the maximum amount of money possible (don't we all), this really isn't about dollars and cents because Cutler is going to get paid regardless of what happens this year unless he suffers a career-ending injury.
No argument here, but it might not be monster-money.
The only variable that could potentially affect Cutler's play on the field is his desire or lack thereof to extend his career with the Bears.
So, as near as I can tell, the only thing affecting Cutler getting $15 million per year is if he wants to be in Chicago or not.
I'm not naive enough to not think that how Cutler views Chicago plays a role in what he wants to do, but if he doesn't sign in Chicago (or isn't tagged), 2013 does shape how he'll continue on in the league. If he performs well, he might get a big deal from the Bears or another team. If he doesn't, he'll get paid by someone, but it might not be for the years or the money, or the job security, he's looking for.
It really can't be said enough - 2013 is truly a make-or-break year for Cutler.