BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Talk about a happy meal.
If Jay Cutler caught wind of the word coming out of New York--Eli Manning is on the verge of locking down a $97.5 million contract extension that will make him the highest-paid quarterback in league history in terms of average annual pay--then his Wednesday morning got off to a great start.
Cutler was in the dining hall on the campus of Olivet Nazarene when the story hit. Manning will get a six-year extension that includes $35 million guaranteed. Pro Football Talk reports that when you factor in the $9.4 million Manning was already set to receive this season, the new pact will come out to $15.2 million annually for the Super Bowl
XLIII XLII MVP.
Cutler is going to be happy, first of all, because players love seeing other players get paid. It's the old theory that high tide raises all ships. Well, high QB contracts raise all QB contracts. Cutler probably isn't next in line either. Like Manning, San Diego's Philip Rivers is going into the final year of his deal. Tom Brady has probably been under paid in New England too.
The Bears have Cutler under contract for three more seasons. He has a $12 million roster bonus in 2011, and will almost surely have a new deal by then. The team has an abundance of room under the salary cap right now--more than $20 million--but general manager Jerry Angelo said he's in no hurry to get a deal done. His point is that hurrying to extend Cutler long term--think five new years--isn't going to save the organization any money. Bus Cook, Cutler's agent, isn't going to give the Bears a discount if they strike a deal tomorrow or next summer. Maybe. But if landmark quarterback contracts continue to happen, and if Cutler guides the Bears on the kind of season the team is hoping for, the price sure might go up. Right?
*** Practice will be at noon today and we'll have some reports then.