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We now know the details of Jay Cutler's new contract.
The Chicago Bears gave him a seven-year, $126 million deal with $54 million guaranteed, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Considering his relative inconsistency over the last few years, Chicago's disappointing 2013 season, and the strong performance of back-up Josh McCown in his absence this year, it's a mild surprise.
The terms of Cutler's deal are right in line with what the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league are making.
There is now an industry standard for "franchise" quarterbacks in the NFL. It's a growing tier of guys making ~$20 million per year, with between $50 million and $60 million in guaranteed money over the life of the contract.
Cutler got $54 million guaranteed. Here's how that compares:
Aaron Rodgers, $62.5 million guaranteed
Drew Brees, $60 million guaranteed
Matt Ryan, $59 million guaranteed
Peyton Manning, $58 million guaranteed
Tom Brady, $57 million guaranteed
Tony Romo, $55 million guaranteed
Joe Flacco, $52 million guaranteed
Cutler now has the contract of a top-eight quarterback. But is he?
Here's how Cutler compares to the other QBs that in group in the last three years:
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He's not as good as the best quarterbacks in the league. He throws more interceptions than anyone, fewer touchdowns, misses a lot of games due to injury, and isn't quite as efficient.
But his numbers are still good relative to the rest of the league. He is, objectively, a slightly above average quarterback, just like Joe Flacco is.
Quarterback is the most important position in any professional sport. You can't succeed in the NFL without a competent player under center. That has inflated the value of quarterback contracts to that point that even decent quarterbacks are worth more than any other position player of any skill level.
The Bears aren't paying Jay Cutler $54 million guaranteed under the assumption that he's one of the five best QBs in football. They're giving him all that money because he satisfies a baseline level of quarterback competence that's a prerequisite for success in the modern NFL.
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