It was previously thought that Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery had essentially ruled out the possibility of the team using the franchise tag to keep Jay Cutler in the offseason, but it looks like that was a misinterpretation. According to ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson, Emery stated that he is “convinced” that Cutler is a franchise quarterback, and Emery also stated that Cutler’s leadership has improved. There is little doubt that Cutler has all the physical tools (arm talent) to be a great quarterback in this league, but it’s his decision-making and leadership that have been called into question.
But with Marc Trestman in the fold as the head coach and extraordinary QB whiz, the arrow is pointing upwards for Cutler. The issue is cost for the Bears, but I don’t think talent is an issue with Cutler, especially with a guy like Trestman who can work wonders (I mean, look at what he’s done with Josh McCown) and help reign Cutler in a bit.
Emery spoke to ESPN Chicago 1000′s “Waddle and Silvy Show” about how the Bears haven’t ruled out franchising Cutler, “I didn’t say that I would rule it out. I said it’s not the first thing we would think about in signing players that we like. If you put a franchise tag on a player, that’s a player that you like. We like Jay. If you like a player, you want to move forward in a multi-contract year basis, not a short term.”
Nothing that Emery says above is earth-shattering, but it’s solid clarification and is 100% true. Nobody wants to go into the season with the tag on their quarterback, because it leaves further questions about that player’s future and also takes a significant financial commitment. And although Cutler stated that he’s cool with the tag, I don’t think any player really wants to head into the season with that kind of uncertainty. Both sides want the security of a long-term deal, but the key is affordability. The way I see it, though, the franchise tag is useful for extending the negotiation period for the team and player, so the Bears could use the tag in order to stop other teams from pursuing Cutler and to allow them to have more time to get a deal done.