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Bears Extend Jay Cutler Through 2020

Since being traded to from Denver to Chicago in 2009, Jay Cutler has led the Bears to the playoffs just once in five seasons. Although he went 1-1 in the 2010 postseason with decidedly mediocre stats, at least he made it there—more than he accomplished in three years with the Broncos.

Cutler’s career touchdown to interception ratio isn’t great (or even very good), and it’s even worse when you take fumbles into account. Which is why when he became a free agent following after the Bears final game of the season, their third straight missing the playoffs, an extension didn’t seem imminent.

After all, aged journeyman Josh McCown looked as good as, if not better, over four games than Cutler at the peak of his career, while filling in for the injured starter. McCown’s success was just as much a testament to his own abilities as it was an indictment of the far too often ineffectual Cutler.

In each of the last five seasons Cutler has been a Top 20 quarterback, Top 15 at best, not faring much better than his middling Bears. Yet for all that abject mediocrity, on Thursday the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport announced the team had agreed to terms on seven-year, $126 million, $50 million of which is guaranteed, extension with their starter.

Bears general manager Phil Emery expressed confidence in the decision and Cutler’s future with the organization, but many see the move as having to do more with faith in first-year coach Marc Trestman, who replaced Lovie Smith when he was fired after going 10-6 in 2012.

After feuding with a number of former offensive coordinators—Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice—Cutler has definitely found an ally in Trestman, who remains convinced that Cutler is the right man for the job. Trestman didn’t even waiver with the decision to bench the red hot McCown when Cutler became available in Week 15.

For as convinced as Trestman seems to be, the rest of the football world—both fans and media alike—is less so. That being said, they’re going to have a lot of time to get used to the idea. Cutler is locked up through the 2020 season and is set to make $18 million over the first three years.

In the end it seems the Bears had to decide between going forward with a slightly better than average, but largely proven, quarterback and rebuilding with a complete unknown. And when you look at the situation like that, it actually makes a lot more sense.

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