Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery mentioned during an online chat with fans that he would prefer not to use their franchise tag on QB Jay Cutler next offseason.
“With the franchise tag being so high for the quarterback position, to use it and not sign the individual to a long-term deal hurts the team,” Emery wrote, via the Chicago Sun-Times, “because you lose the ability to prorate the amount of guaranteed salary over the length of the contract.”
The 2014 non-exclusive franchise-tag should be close to $16.2 million, which illustrates Emery’s concerns given that it’s fully guaranteed. Using the tag would at least prevent Cutler from meeting with prospective teams. But then again, that’s assuming that the Bears are sold on him being their starter long-term.
“We like both Jay and Josh [McCown],” wrote Emery “and we’ll be working after the season to address both their contract situations.”
Cutler, 30, is in the final year of his five-year, $50.37 million contract and is currently making $8.47 million. No matter what happens this offseason, Cutler will make a lot more than that come 2014.
Josh McCown, 35, will also be an unrestricted free agent. Given the increased value a solid backup quarterback, it seems unlikely that the Bears would be willing to pay market value for both players, especially when they have other free agents to address like DT Henry Melton and CB Charles Tillman.
We have Cutler listed as the No. 8 player in our Top 50 – 2014 Free Agents list.