Having "exhausted" all of his medical options — to say nothing of many Bears fans over the years — Jay Cutler will have surgery Saturday to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Chicago coach John Fox made the announcement Thursday, putting to rest reports from last weekend that the team was holding out a sliver of hope the veteran QB might be able to return to the field this year.
Matt Barkley will get the start again in Sunday's matchup with the similarly woeful San Francisco 49ers, but the big question is where the Bears go from here.
Cutler is owed no guaranteed money beyond this season, so he can easily be cut, but his contract — which runs through 2020 — calls for him to be paid a relatively manageable $16 million in 2017 if the Bears keep him around.
There are plenty of arguments to be made for a change after eight years with Cutler as the primary signal-caller, but team after team has demonstrated how difficult it is to find a reliable quarterback in the NFL these days. That reality might prompt the Bears to consider keeping him around, and the factors involved in that decision could also change if Fox (8-19 so far in two seasons) gets the ax.
Either way, the path forward for both the 34-year-old veteran and the Bears is decidedly murky at this point.