The Chicago Bears will be paying Jay Cutler $22.5 million next season. Next year's cap is projected at roughly $126 million, meaning Cutler will eat up around 18 percent of the team's salary, which is substantial.
If the team cuts Julius Peppers, who is due more than $18 million next year, they can open up enough space to still be active in free agency this offseason. Beyond 2014, Cutler's contract numbers reduce dramatically, down to between $15 million-$16 million each year from 2015-2018.
In front-loading his contract, the Bears obviously had Brandon Marshall in mind. Marshall's five-year, $45-million contract expires after next season. So when it comes time for the Bears to re-sign Marshall – and believe me, he's not going anywhere – the hefty portion of Cutler's contract will be in the past.
Spotrac, an online contract database for professional sports, estimates Marshall's upcoming contract to be in the 5-year, $70-million range, at roughly $14 million per season. If that ends up true, the Bears will have Cutler and Marshall signed through their primes at less than $30 million combined for the four years between 2015-2018. That's not too bad considering the prolific production those two have posted during their respective careers together.
"The future is set," Cutler said last week after signing his new contract. "Now it's just about going out and being the best quarterback I can and helping lead this team in the direction we want to go. I'm excited. I was telling [Marshall] a couple of days ago: I'm ready for OTAs. I'm ready to get this thing going. I'm ready to start working on what we've been building on."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.