An eight-year-old quote from then-NFL analyst John Lynch probably doesn’t tell us too much about what now-49ers GM John Lynch would do, but this one’s pretty interesting nonetheless.
For the record, yes, it is the same John Lynch who was a nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro during a 15-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos. Follow me for a moment.
Pro Football Talk unearthed a USA Today story quoting Lynch about a variety of topics on the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN-1000 from July 2009, including this about Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who’d just been acquired from the Broncos:
“This is a guy, in my mind, that’s a once-in-every-15-year-type talent. He’s got that kind of skill. I think he’ll grow into the other things. I sometimes think during this whole ordeal, they tried to paint him as a bad guy, but he’s not a bad guy at all. He’s got some growing up to do, but hopefully he learned something from this whole ordeal and offseason.”
This quote came in the offseason the Bears traded for Cutler, whom Lynch called a friend, adding: “He had some growing up to do, probably still has some growing up to do. But in saying that, I think the Broncos erred in letting him go.”
Eight seasons later, Cutler has likely grown into all that he can be in the NFL at age 33. With Cutler set to make $16 million in 2017, no guaranteed money left on his deal, and a modest $2 million cap hit if he’s released, the Bears may well decide it’s time to move on. Before that, they would explore the trade market.
Much like the Bears, the 49ers have a quarterback conundrum. The team doesn’t necessarily have a long-term quarterback solution it trusts after Colin Kaepernick’s tumultuous year on and off the field, nor does it have a short-term bridge option who is simply there as a placeholder until the real quarterback of the future gets it into gear.
In January, Gary Cohn of the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat wrote that the 49ers should sign Cutler (in the event the Bears released him) as the bridge quarterback until the team’s long-term solution.
And now that Lynch (who likes Cutler) is in place as the GM, and Kyle Shanahan (whose father Mike Shanahan drafted Cutler in 2006) is on his way as the head coach, maybe San Francisco will provide a soft landing and a fresh start for the Bears’ all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Whether they’d have to trade for Cutler to make that happen depends a good bit on how the next couple months shake out, and whether there is any other interest around the league in taking a chance on Cutler, who is coming off of an injury-shortened season and shoulder surgery.
Fortunately for the Bears, they can take their time making a decision on Cutler, as there are no immediately-looming deadlines in his contract that would spur a near-term decision.