The Bears' 2013 season came to a heartbreaking end with a 33-28 last-minute loss to the Packers on Dec. 29, a defeat that cost them the NFC North title and kept them out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.

That was a demoralizing finish for a team that was hit hard by injuries and saw its once-proud defense come totally unglued — just as a once-inconsistent offense was hitting stride on the way to a franchise-record yardage total.

In the 27 weeks since players cleaned out their lockers at Halas Hall, general manager Phil Emery has been busy overhauling the roster and unifying a vision with coach Marc Trestman to point the organization back toward the postseason.

The Jan. 2 announcement that quarterback Jay Cutler had signed a seven-year contract extension was far and away the most significant move of the offseason, a transaction Trestman believes "set the tone" for a plan that also produced coaching changes, fond farewells and welcoming celebrations for a pack of key free agents and draft picks.

With training camp two weeks away, here's a recap of the offseason's 10 biggest headlines.

Jan. 2

Tribune headline: 7-year hitch — Cutler's here to stay after signing long-term contract

The big news: The Bears gave quarterback Jay Cutler a seven-year extension, a deal that locks him up through 2020 and could be worth up to $126 million.

What it means: The Bears are all-in on Cutler, convinced he has the requisite talent to lead them to a Super Bowl and certain his work alongside quarterback guru Marc Trestman will help him realize his full potential.

Trestman arrived last year convinced of Cutler's ability but curious as to whether the two could quickly create a productive and harmonious relationship. What Trestman soon realized was Cutler's football aptitude allows him to process information quickly. That has allowed Cutler to catalyze his development and the offense's growth by relaying to the coaching staff what he sees in the playbook that works best for him and what needs to be altered.

With attentive coaching, an energized quarterbacks room and an impressive supporting cast, Cutler has been put in position to succeed at the highest level. Now it's up to him to do so.

Jan. 12

Tribune headline: He's still 'D' boss — Trestman stands by Tucker, but 2 assistant coaches lose their jobs

The big news: After a historically bad season on defense, the Bears retained coordinator Mel Tucker while firing defensive line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar.

What it means: Despite a seemingly calculated delay in announcing Tucker's job security, neither Trestman nor general manager Phil Emery seriously considered dismissing him after a season in which the defense fell apart. Injuries were a major factor, as was a lack of quality depth.

But read between the lines of the coaching changes made in January, and there was an admission at Halas Hall that Tucker deserved a more experienced group of assistants with an expertise in player development. So out went Phair and Tibesar, and in came Paul Pasqualoni and Reggie Herring. Tucker was energized by those hirings and believes the dividends were already evident during organized team activities and minicamp.

Now he gets a second season to mold his defense with better talent, more depth and an aim to create far more disruption in the backfield.

Jan. 29

Tribune headline: Next-level thinking — The Seahawks moved their 2012 first-round pick from end to linebacker with super success. Can Bears do the same?

The big news: The Bears began a push to convert 2012 first-rounder Shea McClellin from defensive end to linebacker.