The Chicago Bears announced on Wednesday, March 11, that Jay Cutler will remain their starting quarterback.
Jay Cutler is still the Chicago Bears' starting quarterback.
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According to Larry Mayer of the Bears' official website, new Chicago general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox were still evaluating Cutler at the NFL Combine three weeks ago. It was an opportunity for them to get to know him better.
Now, they have made up their minds. Pace told Mayer about their decision of sticking with Cutler:
"We made that decision. We went through a process of thoroughly evaluating the roster and we're moving forward with Jay Cutler as our starting quarterback.
"We've spent time with him on a personal basis. It's getting to know him as a person, like I said initially, and I think just being thorough with all that, that helped us come to this conclusion."
Pace also told ChicagoBears.com the team never tried to trade Cutler. He said,"We never did that."
Pace seconded this motion to The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs on Wednesday:
"A lot of those things are internal, guys, but no, those things never occurred. Jay is our quarterback, and that's what we're doing, that's what we're looking forward to and I'd just like to keep it at that."
Mayer stresses Pace and Fox pored over film of their quarterback since his rookie year with the Denver Broncos nine years ago. They also relied on input from Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and the team scouts to evaluate Cutler thoroughly.
Fox says he and Pace were methodical in their analysis of Cutler, per Mayer:
"This game is about relationships. We wanted to explore those and get comfortable with those before we made a decision. That's why we took as much time as we could to evaluate and assess the situation.
"I think the biggest thing for me is, is a guy willing to work? If a guy will work at it, he can get better. If a guy's not willing to work at it, he's not getting better. In this league you don't stay the same. You're either getting better or you're getting worse. So what I saw and learned of him is intelligence. He's willing to work at it. So I think he's capable of improving."
Cutler told The Chicago Tribune on Dec. 18, 2014 he would like to remain with the Bears despite being benched several days earlier heading into the Week 16 game against the Detroit Lions. He said,"I would like to stay here. I really like it here. I love the guys in the locker room that I get to play with. Clearly, it's different circumstances now. But going foward, this is where I'd like to be."
Former Bears head coach Marc Trestman indicated in the same Chicago Tribune update that benching Cutler back then "was a coaching decision."
Despite his fate late in the 2014 NFL season, Cutler still established a franchise record for completions with 370. He also recorded career highs in completion percentage (66) and passing touchdowns (28), per ESPN Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright.
However, he led the NFL in a tie with the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers with 18 interceptions last season. He was also No. 1 in the league in turnovers as he lost six fumbles, per Wright.
Nonetheless, he will look at improving his 61-58 record as a starter. The Bears recently re-signed his backup, Jimmy Clausen, who played for Fox when they were still with the Carolina Panthers in 2010. Clausen took over as Bears starting quarterback when Cutler was benched in December, Wright adds.
Cutler is entering his seventh season with the Bears. Biggs notes he will earn a guaranteed salary of $15.5 million in 2015. Cutler will also get $10 million of his 2016 base salary at 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 12.
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