The Chicago Bears have benched quarterback Jay Cutler, just months after giving him contract with $US54 million in guaranteed money, one of the largest in the NFL.
One theory is that head coach Marc Trestman is trying to save his job by showing that the problem is the quarterback, not the coaching.
The problem with keeping Trestman is that it would require the team to get rid of Cutler since the two obviously can’t succeed together. But cutting ties with Cutler is going to be difficult and could cost the team a fortune.
If the Bears decide to cut Cutler after the season, they would still be responsible for his 2015 salary of $US15.5 million ($US10 million of his 2016 salary becomes guaranteed in March according to Spotrac.com).
But more importantly to the success of the team, Cutler would still count as $US19.5 million against the 2015 salary cap. For comparison, only Eli Manning has a larger cap hit this year among quarterbacks, counting as $US20.4 million against the New York Giants’ cap.
It is not easy to give one player ~15% of a team’s payroll when there are 52 other spots to fill. It is near impossible to do it for a player that is not even on the team.
The Bears’ other option is to trade Cutler. If that happens, he will only count as $US4 million against the 2015 cap. That is much more manageable but it also requires the Bears to find a team willing to take a risky, gunslinging quarterback with $US25.5 million in guaranteed salary over the next two years.
Impossible? No. Difficult? Maybe.
One thing going for the Bears is that next year’s free agent quarterback class is not great, with the top player possibly being Mark Sanchez. So if teams want to upgrade, and they don’t have a top pick in the draft, Cutler could be another option, albeit an expensive one.
But if the Bears can’t find a trade partner, cutting the coach would be the much cheaper option.
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