Biggs: What's next for Bears after busy 96 hours?
It was not a surprise Tuesday night when the Chicago Bears announced they had reached agreement with Jay Cutler on a two-year contract extension that includes $20 million guaranteed and secures the quarterback through 2013.
The Bears entered the season with a surplus of room under the salary cap and were able to apply a good chunk of the money to this year, something the team has always done. With $30 million in new money, Cutler now stands to earn roughly $50 million over the course of the next five seasons. While that doesn’t approach the $15 million annually that some of the top quarterbacks are commanding these days, Cutler didn’t have a lot of leverage as he was signed through 2011 on his rookie contract. Plus, a $12 million roster bonus in 2011 wasn’t guaranteed, and with the distant threat of a work stoppage then, he secured money for his future with the extension, so it’s a win for both sides and it might have gotten done easier than anyone could have imagined.
Now, the question is are the Bears done or not? In a span of 96 hours they traded for Gaines Adams, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, and locked up Cutler for two more years so his contract now coincides with that of general manager Jerry Angelo.
Angelo has been active in the past doing multiple extension for players in-season, but the team has been so pro-active the last few years there really aren’t a lot of options to turn to right now. Here are players coming out of contract after this season and next:
2009: DE Mark Anderson, S Josh Bullocks, S Danieal Manning, LB Darrell McClover, DE Adewale Ogunleye, RB Adrian Peterson, LB Nick Roach, LB Tim Shaw, LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, DT Matt Toeaina, LB Jamar Williams
2010: DT Anthony Adams, WR Devin Armoashodu, G Josh Beekman, TE Desmond Clark, WR Rashied Davis, CB Corey Graham, QB Caleb Hanie, RB Kevin Jones, C Olin Kreutz, LS Pat Mannelly, P Brad Maynard, S Kevin Payne, RB Garrett Wolfe
That list contains only six starters. Ogunleye is the most prominent after this season. While the trade for Gaines Adams would seem to rule him out moving forward, that’s not necessarily the case. The Bears will likely monitor the market for Ogunleye, who will be 33 before next season.
Every day that goes by it becomes more likely 2010 will be an uncapped year, meaning players finishing their fourth and fifth seasons will not be unrestricted free agents. In that scenario, the Bears would have the option to tender Anderson and Manning, and Roach, a starter because of injuries at linebacker, will be a restricted free agent. Anderson, another pass rusher, could also come back even with Gaines Adams on board through 2012.
Coach Lovie Smith has been excited about the development of Manning, the starting free safety, but the organization has gone so hot and cold with him over the previous three seasons, that it’s doubtful anyone is ready to commit to him longterm. He’s had a quiet start to the season.
It certainly hasn’t been a quiet last few days for the Bears, though. Gaines Adams will make his debut Sunday at Cincinnati, and the Cutler deal will take the attention of a disappointing 21-14 loss at Atlanta.
Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs