Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is at the NFL Scouting Combine today, where he spoke with reporters about a range of topics, including soon-to-be free agent wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and possibly soon-to-be ex-quarterback Jay Cutler.
It has been reported that the Bears are actively trying to trade Cutler, who will turn 34 in April and is coming off of Shoulder surgery. However it happens, the expectation is that the Bears and Cutler will separate before the 2017 season begins.
Noting that Cutler remains under contract, Pace described the situation as “fluid.” There are ongoing conversations with Cutler’s agent Bus Cook, but Pace would not commit to any particular direction with respect to the long-time Bears starting quarterback.
Instead, Pace said (Tribune), “[T]here are a lot of [quarterback] scenarios right now, and there are a lot of different things that can happen. It’s fluid throughout this week and as we approach free agency and even after free agency. It’s our responsibility to have a plan in place — which we do — that’s flexible and adaptable as the landscape is changing and that’s kind of where we’re at.”
In other words, Pace is not going to commit to a path right now, because so much can happen in the next week – and then as free agency plays out (heck, just today a report came out claiming Jimmy Garoppolo will not be traded) – that can change the organization’s thinking. They will need to remain nimble.
One path that seems all but closed, however, is the return of Cutler. How precisely that separation occurs remains to be seen. If no trade can be consummated, the Bears may simply opt to release Cutler, which would save $13 million against the 2017 cap. (The Bears’ $175 million cap number just came out today, by the way.)