There is little doubt Cutler will be the Bears' quarterback in 2013. The issue is whether they will commit to him beyond 2013. Cutler's contract has one season left at a salary of $8.47 million. Emery has publicly endorsed Cutler, calling him the franchise quarterback the team wants to build around. But he also allowed that the new coach will need to see Cutler the same way. The Bears might try to extend Cutler's contract this offseason. Doing so would limit what they could do in terms of signing other free agents. They also could decide to let him play out his contract and see how they feel about him after next season. Determining Cutler's value at this point could be difficult. There has been talk of Cutler being paid like the upper- echelon quarterbacks in the league, with an average annual salary of $16 million or more. But Cutler's play in 2012 did not justify that kind of contract. Playing behind a leaky offensive line and throwing to inconsistent receivers other than Brandon Marshall, Cutler finished 20th in the NFL in passer rating (81.3), 21st in completion percentage (58.8), 16th in yards per attempt (6.99) and 26th in yards per game (202). Moreover, he directed an offense that was completely impotent at critical points. Cutler developed a habit of slow starts and strong finishes. He had a passer rating of 55.1 in the first quarter and 114.7 in the fourth, according to STATS. But he was frequently most effective after the defense had given the Bears a comfortable lead and the pressure was off. Where Cutler has improved is in avoiding losing the game. But on the flip side, Cutler was arguably the primary reason for only one victory all season -- the opener against the Colts. He performed above average by my grading scale in eight of his 15 starts and average or below in seven. He saved his worst performances for the best opponents. His combined passer rating in two games against the Packers and one game against the Texans was 33.8.
Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune