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Cutler, Marshall Decision Day Approaching for Bears

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Mar 5, 2015 8:40PM

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The Bears have until March 11 to decide whether quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall remain in their plans. If Cutler remains on the roster March 12, an additional $10 million for 2016 becomes guaranteed on top of the $15.5 million already owed for 2015. Marshall's $7.5 million contract for 2015 also becomes guaranteed on that day.

New head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace both said they were "evaluating the entire roster" when asked about the inconsistent QB and controversial wideout. Since that time, neither has issued a vote of confidence in either player, nor have they announced a parting of ways.

Rumors suggest the team is exploring trade options for Marshall. In a drama-filled and injury-plagued 2014 campaign, the 31-year-old wideout caught 61 passes for 721 yards and eight touchdowns while causing controversies related to past domestic abuse allegations, his weekly trips to New York for television appearances and a Twitter spat with a Detroit Lions fan. While acquiring Marshall cost the Bears a pair of third round draft picks in 2012, they'll be lucky to get a single mid-round pick for him now. On the other hand, we think that a less permissive coaching staff might be able to reign in his behavior and allow him to remain a productive part of the team's offense.

Jay Cutler on the other hand? While current Bears management has been quiet thus far, former coaches and executives have been saying that Bears can't win with Cutler. We fans have been saying this for a while now, but having it supported by those who are knowledgeable about football and closer to the situation only reaffirms the notion that the Bears need to look elsewhere.

It's possible the team may be actively trying to trade Cutler, pawning off his contract to some other organization. Maybe even acquire a possible replacement QB or a late round draft pick. There may be teams interested in Cutler, such as the Tennessee Titans. They play in the same town where Cutler played college ball at Vanderbilt, and he has an off-season home in Nashville as well. Washington and Houston might also be interested in Cutler's services. But it's also possible the Bears may simply cut Cutler and hope he signs elsewhere to help defray the salary owed.

Of course, if the Bears do choose to part ways with Cutler, then they will need somebody to replace him as the starting QB. Following his release from Tampa Bay, there was interest in Josh McCown. Bears management met with Cutler's former back-up during the pre-draft combine but McCown signed with the Cleveland Browns, where he expects to start. This is an especially weak year for free agent quarterbacks, with Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez and Brian Hoyer among the top players available. When assessing that list of options, perhaps Cutler doesn't look so bad? Or does the new regime want a clean break as they begin to re-build and move on even without the obvious replacement identified? We'll find out at some point in the next week.