Jay Cutler receives 7-year deal


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears left no doubt about their confidence in Jay Cutler.

Cutler, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, signed a seven-year contract with the team, general manager Phil Emery announced Thursday.

Although financial terms were not released, Cutler's deal is expected to eclipse the $17.6 million average the Detroit Lions gave Matthew Stafford in July. It also includes at least $50 million in guaranteed money, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Cutler isn't worried about his critics panning the deal.

"Anything that would have happened, [anywhere] I would've went, there's always positives and negatives," Cutler said. "There's always critics. Coming off an 8-8 season, we're not happy with how it ended. But I think everyone in this building is really excited about the direction we're going.

"Moving forward, there's definitely gonna be people saying that this was the wrong move. That's fine. That's their opinion. The people in this building will stick together, and we'll keep going in the direction that we think is right."

In explaining the thought process behind locking up Cutler for the long term, Emery discussed the quarterback's growth in 2013, a season the general manager described as his best.

"He's a demonstrated winner with the Chicago Bears," Emery said. "He can be a key player in terms of being the reason you win."

Emery pointed to Cutler's leadership during a difficult 2013 campaign, in addition to his improvement and display of toughness.

"Very excited to have Jay for the long term," Emery said. "Cutler battled through the tough times."

Also Thursday, the Bears re-signed cornerback Tim Jennings and guard Matt Slauson to four-year deals. The Bears have signed five players who were pending free agents in the aftermath of the team's season: Cutler, Jennings, Slauson, kicker Robbie Gould and fullback Tony Fiammetta.

Cutler had a 103.8 passer rating in Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers and concluded the season with a career-high rating of 89.2 while throwing for 2,621 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has, however, been picked off 75 times since joining the Bears in 2009. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick have thrown interceptions on a higher percentage of passes than Cutler's 3.6 during that span.

He said Thursday that he never really was interested in becoming a free agent.

"We wanted to stay here," Cutler said. "So it was going to have to come from the Bears not wanting me back for me to test" free agency.

Backup quarterback Josh McCown came on this year when Cutler was hurt and was the best QB in the league for a short stretch, but even he lauded the Bears' move to lock up their franchise quarterback.

"Oh, I'm excited for him, he said on ESPN's "SVP & Russillo." "One of the things, when I came back here to work alongside Jay and to back him up I knew that this was a contract for him. I wanted to help him to put himself in a position to do what he's done and that's to be here for the long haul and so I'm definitely very excited for him."

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