Jay Cutler’s time in Chicago is ending soon, though his future is far from settled.
The Bears have been actively trying to trade Cutler, but ultimately might be left to release him when the NFL’s new calendar year begins. From there he could slide into a backup role, fight for a starter’s job with a non-contender, or even retire. But former teammate Josh McCown hopes Cutler continues to sling the pigskin, telling Ross Tucker and Greg McElroy of SiriusXM NFL Radio that he still believes Cutler can play at a high level:
“I root for him either way it goes. As a friend, and a football fan, and as a guy who appreciates quarterbacks, I hope he continues to play and finds a good spot where he can play good football because I believe that is still in his future.”
If Cutler wants to play in 2017, odds are he can find employment. The Browns, 49ers, Jets, and Bills are among teams with uncertainty at the position in both the near and long-term, while the Broncos and Texans could be in the market for an experienced quarterback to guide the offense enough to make the most out of top-rated defenses.
McCown, who will hit free agency (and could be a Bears offseason target) after being released by the Browns in February, saw Cutler play some of his best football during the three years he was in Chicago from 2011 to 2013. During that stretch, Cutler owned a respectable 85.1 passer rating, threw 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions, as the Bears went 22-14 in his starts. And prior to his injury-shortened 2016 season, Cutler had a three-year run from 2013 to 2015 in which he posted a 90.0 passer rating with 68 touchdowns and 41 interceptions in 41 games. Unfortunately, the Bears went only 16-25 in those Cutler starts, though the blame certainly doesn’t rest on his shoulders alone.
But in a league where 32 starters need backups, it’s hard to imagine Cutler – even with all his flaws – not being one of the best 64 available quarterbacks.