By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — When Bears general manager Phil Emery announced at the start of training camp in July that he would table all contract negotiations until the end of the season, some players were naturally caught off guard.
Kicker Robbie Gould, for instance, was very vocal about being disappointed that the Bears were not open to discussing an extension before the season started.
But quarterback Jay Cutler never said a word.
Cutler’s camp was fine with putting off negotiations until the winter. The Bears wanted to see how their quarterback would perform with a new offense run by first-year head coach Marc Trestman and there was no reason for Cutler to object, because it gave him an opportunity to earn more money by succeeding in the system.
The year hasn’t exactly gone as planned, as Cutler has missed five games because of injury and not been able to finish two others. But before he suffered those injuries, he was having his best year in a Bears uniform.
So as the quarterback arrived at Halas Hall on Thursday, taking over the offense once again as the Bears’ starting quarterback, nothing had changed in his mind regarding his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
“I think we’re still in the same boat that we were,” he said Thursday. “We’ll deal with it at the end of the season. I think that’s what they want, that’s what I want. My concentration right now is on Cleveland and the final two games. That stuff is kind of on the backburner.”
Despite published reports saying that the Bears are willing to let Cutler test the free agent market, there have been no indications that the Bears don’t want Cutler to be their starting quarterback in 2014 or vise versa. The team’s commitment to Cutler as their starter despite backup Josh McCown being named NFC Offensive Player Of The Week Tuesday speaks for itself.
“I think Phil (Emery) has a plan — actually, I know Phil has a plan. You guys might not know Phil’s plan, but he has a plan,” Cutler said.
The quarterback admitted he saw what Emery said about the use of the franchise tag in a chat with fans on ChicagoBears.com last week. The general manager said using the tag wouldn’t make sense financially if didn’t lead to a longterm deal being worked out with the quarterback, but some misinterpreted that has a declaration that he won’t use the tag on Cutler at all.
Either way, neither side seems concerned about the future.
“Can’t worry about it,” Cutler said. “We’re trying to win football games, so whatever it takes to win that game that’s kind of my mindset and it will take care of itself. It always does.”
With the Bears tied with the Lions atop the NFC North at 7-6, but not holding the tiebreaker because of two losses to Detroit this season, there is certainly pressure on Cutler to succeed as he returns to the field. But is that pressure any different than before?
“There’s pressure to make the playoffs every game,” Cutler said. “This is my eighth year. I’ve been down this road before.”
Where that road leads in the offseason remains a question, but the signs are pointing right back to Halas Hall.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.