What Day 1 of NFL free agency says about Jay Cutler, Bears

Two injured quarterbacks were traded, but not a healthy Jay Cutler.

A couple of injured quarterbacks were traded Tuesday, but not a healthy Jay Cutler.

Meanwhile, the Bears were trying to sign a 32-year-old safety.

There’s your Day 1 takeaway from NFL free agency: This is a bad time for what the Bears need.

OK, the Bears need everything. I get it. They don’t have one position group that’s complete. Tight end might be the closest. They don’t have a “best’’ position. Maybe Matt Forte by himself.

But the Bears need all manner of safeties -- free, strong, not Chris Conte -- and they need a quarterback who can win a Super Bowl instead of the turnover title.

They need those as much as they need a massive defensive tackle to anchor their change to a 3-4 defense. But they’re still looking for answers, looking for help.

What’s worse, the other 31 teams and every player agent knows the Bears need to acquire players at those positions -- to be more precise, acquire safeties and remove Cutler -- and the Bears apparently will have to pay a ransom to accomplish those goals.

The price for safety jumped when Devin McCourty took $47.5 million from the Patriots and took himself off the market. Paying for the second-best free-agent safety just became more expensive, and maybe more expensive still for the Bears because they aren’t championship timber.

So the choice is fork over more of the $32 million you have available or negotiate with an aging Antrel Rolle.

The cost of dumping Cutler, meanwhile, must be exorbitant if you judge by the deal that sent Brandon Marshall to the Jets.

Turns out, the Bears had to give up a seventh-round pick in order to dump the divisive wide receiver, and I’m thinking, that means they have to surrender a first-rounder to deal the coach-killing Cutler.

Look, the Bears tried to deal Cutler. They’re probably still trying as they stare down a Thursday deadline that charges $10 million of his 2016 salary against the cap.

As of this writing Cutler is still a Bear, even though the Rams and Eagles traded quarterbacks who lost all or half of 2014 to injury. And Cutler is still a Bear even though the Titans just had a 26-year-old former first-round pick quit.

There’s your market for Cutler, which has grown steeper still because he has no support from his own team.

Neither new general manager Ryan Pace nor new coach John Fox gave Cutler a public endorsement. Still haven’t, in fact, and they’ve had several of chances to do it.

The Bears still could cut him before Thursday’s deadline just to be rid of the whole failed thing, and that’s a solid move by itself.

If the argument against dumping Cutler is there’s nobody to replace him, then it’s missing the point. Dumping Cutler forces progress if only because different unacceptable results are better than the usual unacceptable results.

Either way, the Bears need commodities painfully thin in both free agency and the draft, and it’s not a coincidence there’s a dearth at those positions, especially when it comes to college players.

Safeties are the quarterbacks of the defense. They have to change to mirror what quarterbacks are doing. Problem is, that doesn’t give NFL teams the type of players they need when quarterbacks come out of college spread offenses.

That’s why most experts have just two quarterbacks and one safety going in the first round. And that’s why the free-agent and trade markets are so thin and consequently expensive.

To their credit, the Bears are trying to load up on pass rushers first, which can hide the issues at safety and hopefully give your quarterback short fields, whoever that quarterback is and however bad Cutler or someone else might be.

The scheme is different, but the Bears’ expected signing of edge rusher Pernell McPhee feels like the Willie Young move last year -- a player ready to ascend to big-time numbers as he enters his prime.

McPhee’s quarterback knockdowns/hurries in part-time play for the Ravens exceeded Jared Allen’s total in whatever passed for full-time play.

And now Allen will be asked to drop into coverage? Vic Fangio had better be as great as his reputation says.

The Bears are talking to Eddie Royal, a wide receiver who is a former Denver playmate of Cutler. How’d that work out last time?

Ndamukong Suh will sign a record deal with the Dolphins, so the Bears got better.

Ngata Haloti was traded to the Lions, so the Bears didn’t.

Randall Cobb will stay in Green Bay, so the Bears really didn’t.

Bill Polian’s free-agent tracker on ESPN.com gave Jimmy Clausen a D, same as tight end Zach Miller. The Bears re-signed both.

Polian also gave Stephen Paea a D. I’d rate him higher, but that’s certainly the grade you’d expect the Washington team to sign.

Tramon Williams’ problem if he goes to the Seahawks is that he won’t get to face Cutler twice a year.

Patrick Willis’ retirement opens up a linebacker spot in San Francisco. Lance Briggs could waddle closer to his restaurant.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock wondered whether Jameis Winston could be the face of a franchise. More like the front- and side-view of one. Good luck with that one, Lovie.

When a player such as as Dante Fowler comes out of the combine listed as 6-foot-2 5/8, doesn’t that sound like a kid saying he’s 3 1/2 years old?

Remember when the NFL had tampering rules? Yeah, good times.

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