Don't take that as a dig at Cutler or sour grapes on the part of Urlacher, who departed the organization unceremoniously prior to the 2013 season. Even Cutler didn't seem to take offense to Urlacher's comments.
"No," Cutler said when asked if he took issue with Urlacher saying he hasn't produced like an elite quarterback.
"No," Cutler responded when asked if such commentary bothered him coming from an ex-teammate.
Cutler certainly possesses "elite" tools: toughness, a cannon for an arm, underrated mobility, and the intelligence to diagnose quickly and make the necessary adjustments. But when it comes to producing at an elite level on the field, Cutler falls short of the truly elite signal-callers around the NFL, players such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.
"Financially, he is one of the elite guys in the NFL," Urlacher said during an interview with 87.7 FM The Game in Chicago. "He just hasn't produced like an elite quarterback."
That's an absolutely fair assessment, and came in response to Bears general manager Phil Emery remarking during an online chat on the team's official website that Cutler's winning record as a starting quarterback (59-52) makes him elite. Having covered Emery since he first set foot through the doors at Halas Hall, the general manager -- who absolutely should show support for his starting quarterback on the team's official website -- probably exaggerated a tad and used flawed logic in calling Cutler elite.
If merely a winning record makes for an elite quarterback, the league seemed to be teeming with them at the start of the season. Coming into this season, 25 active quarterbacks possessed winning records as starters.
Currently, players such as former Bears quarterback Rex Grossman (.532), Mark Sanchez (.532), Michael Vick (.547) and Alex Smith (.550) win at a higher clip as starters than Cutler, yet none are cashing in at his level.
Smith signed a four-year deal worth $68 million in August, while Vick, now a backup, signed a one-year deal in March worth $5 million to join the New York Jets.
Cutler, meanwhile, receives a base salary of $22.5 million this season ($5 million was converted into a signing bonus in March) as part of a seven-year, $126.7 million contract extension signed earlier this year, which places him atop the list for quarterback salaries in 2014, ahead of the New York Giants' Eli Manning ($15.15 million) and the other Manning in Denver ($15 million).
Rodgers, who signed a five-year, $110 million contract last year, has the highest average annual salary among quarterbacks at $22 million, but his base salary for 2014 is $900,000 (he received $16.2 million more in bonuses). By the way, he's winning games, too.
"You look at the Bradys, the Mannings, the Rodgers, the [Drew] Brees, those guys win every year, even with no one around them," Urlacher said. "Rodgers has no offensive line. He wins. Brady has no receivers. He wins.
"And you look at Jay. He's got Brandon [Marshall], Alshon [Jeffery], Matt [Forte], this great offensive line, Martellus Bennett, and they can't seem to put it together, for some reason. I'm not sure if that's his fault, but for some reason, they just can't figure it out."
What we can deduce though is Cutler, who has had a direct hand in each of Chicago's losses this season, falls short of elite.
Cutler tossed an interception and was credited for two fumbles in the team's loss to the Miami Dolphins. Cutler has thrown 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions this season, and, interestingly, all the picks came in the club's four losses. Yet the quarterback turned the ball over only once (a fumble in a Week 3 win over the Jets) during the team's three victories.
And while the organization continues to stand behind Cutler, the quarterback stressed it is not doing so blindly.
"Everything I do is critiqued," Cutler said. "Every step I take, every read I make, ball location [it's all critiqued]. I think that's the farthest from the truth when we are in the meeting room. Anytime you lose a bunch of games, you're going to be under scrutiny. It's going to be tough. It's going to look not how you wanted it to look going into the season. So coaches and quarterbacks are judged on their records, on wins and losses, and right now we're behind the eight ball in that category."