NFL players, by and large, do not like having the franchise tag attached to their names. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, by and large, is not your average NFL player.
But Cutler said Monday night on the "Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000 that he would be down with the designation, should it come to that for the free-agent-to-be this coming offseason.
"I'm not gonna take anything personally," Cutler said. "If they want to franchise me, I'm gonna feel good about the situation we're in."
Rare words. Yes, signing a one-year tender as the franchise quarterback would earn Cutler about $16 million, or more. But most players want that long-term deal and security (read: guaranteed money). After all, look at teammate Henry Melton, who was tagged and then lost his whole season to injury. Melton's chances of getting a long-term deal now are less.
So let's try to figure out why Cutler said that, shall we?
Some possible reasoning:
1. Cutler likes where he's at. It's very possible this is true. He appears to have a great relationship with Marc Trestman, and the other offensive coaches. He's willing to make a sacrifice for the good of the team. This is the sunniest view you can take on the matter.
2. Cutler fears for his job. He knows that if he demands too much, the Bears could say, "Thanks, but we're going with Josh McCown for now and drafting our future QB in May." However far-fetched that sounds, the dropoff in production with McCown has not been significant and no one around Chicago is lamenting over the Cutler injury the way, say, Bulls fans are over the loss of Derrick Rose. This would be a bit of a cynical take on things.
3. Cutler knows his best chance of getting that long-term deal is by accepting the tag, then letting his agent, Bus Cook, negotiate longer, which only increases the chances he'll stay. This is the most reasonable explanation, and it might include elements of Nos. 1 and 2. And, hey, if he's not under contract, Cutler can have a little more time to spend with his wife and baby.
"Well, you just don't show up for a little while," Cutler said. "But everyone at some point comes back to work, right? I'm not just gonna not show up. I might be like, 'I'm gonna miss a few OTAs and go on an extra vacation.' But at some point, I'm gonna be back there."
Smart man. Vandy grad. He's thought this through, clearly. Cutler also knows, having missed time with an injury and the Bears hanging on for dear life in the playoff hunt, that he's not exactly dealing from a position of extreme strength. Technically, anything can happen.
Whatever ends up happening, if you're a Bears fan, you have to be happy with him saying this. It means there's a greater chance of things ending up going well between team, player and agent. Cutler says he wants to be in Chicago; in fact, he's being shockingly deferential to the team, leading up to the process.
If the Bears want him back, it appears they can have exactly that.
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