It was with a smile that Jay Cutler said congratulations to Eli Manning and Philip Rivers as they pulled down blockbuster contracts this summer, and the Bears quarterback was able to smile about his own deal on Wednesday.
Cutler signed a $30 million, two-year extension Tuesday night that gives him protection against the possibility of a lockout in 2011, something he said is on the minds of all players. The Bears, according to general manager Jerry Angelo, didn't plan on addressing a deal with Cutler during the season as he was signed through 2011 on his rookie contract when they traded for him with the Denver Broncos.
But agent Bus Cook approached the team and they quickly found some common ground that made sense for both parties.
"We felt given the uncertainty of the CBA, given the fact we had the cap room, this was a good time for us because what it does for us is it helps our planning going forward,'' Angelo said. "This will not impede us to not do anything we need to do in free agency moving forward. In fact, it's going to help us now because there's real clarity because Jay was always in the plans. It was just when we were going to do it and how much it was going to ... the cost. All that got resolved in a timely manner.
"We're very very happy with that. I know Jay is happy with that. He made it very clear he wanted to be a Bear. Money was never an issue when we made the trade with him."
Cutler had a $12 million roster bonus due in 2011, money that wasn't guaranteed. In the extension, he moved a lot of money forward in the deal--he'll pocket $16 million this season--and protected himself at a time when no one can predict the future between the owners and players.
"I think every player in the league is probably concerned with that because we don't know what is going to happen, is there going to be a lockout or what's going to happen?'' Cutler said. "You know, the (players association) is advising everyone to save money. So any money you can get before that point is going to be good for any player.''