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Bears table contract talks with Cutler, others

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Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery is ready for some football. Contract talks, including the high-profile variety with quarterback Jay Cutler, can wait.

"We have a number of players that are under one-year contracts or their contracts will expire at the end of this season. That would be part of the planning process for 2014," Emery said on the eve of Bears' training camp in Bourbonnais, Ill. "We are always open to dialogue with our players and with their agents but I will tell you that with where we're at with our current salary cap and the room that we have in our cap in our efforts to put together a championship team in 2013, I do not anticipate that we will do any extensions of contracts during this season. All those will occur, with the players it will occur with, will happen in 2014 and not during the 2013 season."

Cutler, franchised free agent Henry Melton, cornerback Charles Tillman, returner Devin Hester and strong safety Major Wright all have deals that expire at the end of the 2013 season.

Melton, 26, is playing on a one-year tender worth $8.45 million after earning $565,000 in 2012. Cutler said recently he's not even thinking about his contract. Instead, he'll venture to prove he's ready at age 30 to be the face of a franchise embarking on a season without Brian Urlacher in the middle for the first time this century.

Cutler, in his fifth season with the Bears, will be operating his fourth offense in Chicago in Marc Trestman's West Coast-rooted scheme. Emery said the risk that Cutler, like Joe Flacco in 2012, could have a career year and force the Bears to pay more to retain him in six months, would be a welcomed challenge.

"I guess if you're saying an enormous amount of leverage (for Cutler) that means we've had a great season," Emery said. "That's a problem I look forward to."

The differentiating factor, of course, is Flacco left his last game holding a Lombardi Trophy. Cutler has one career playoff victory and two postseason starts.
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