Cutler: Have to win to earn big QB money

Jay Cutler is set to earn $8.47 million in the final year of his contract. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Entering the final year of his contract, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler watched the monstrous amounts of money being tossed to players at his position this offseason, and joked "it doesn't make me mad."

But in assessing his own situation, Cutler knows the deal.

"You've got to win games to earn those contracts," he said Tuesday, just minutes after the club's first voluntary minicamp at the Walter Payton Center. "There are some big numbers being thrown out there. You can't get ahead of yourself. I'm in my last year obviously. I'm sure everyone knows that. So we'll play it out and see how it goes."

Set to earn $8.47 million in 2013, Cutler enters the offseason with his fourth offensive coordinator in five years in Aaron Kromer since joining the Bears in 2009 through a trade with the Denver Broncos. Despite playing just four seasons with the Bears, Cutler leads the franchise in passer rating (81.9), and completions (1,034) and ranks second in touchdown passes (82), passing yards (12,292) and completion percentage (59.6).

Cutler owns a 35-23 overall record (including the postseason).

Asked back in February whether Cutler needed to perform in 2013 before the team would invest long term in the quarterback, Bears general manager Phil Emery said, "we're gonna work through that. I'm not going to comment on anything involving contracts, or future contracts, or current contracts, or when we're going to decide on contracts."

Emery spoke more in general terms on Tuesday when asked about the possibility of the club drafting a quarterback later this month, but made it clear that "Jay's contract status doesn't impact it."

"I'd like to draft a quarterback every year. If we can find the right quarterback, those are very valuable in terms of the position. Obviously, I don't see that you can have a winning franchise and a championship franchise without a high quality quarterback. So you want to give yourself as many chances as possible. (Quarterbacks) are also very valuable from a trade perspective. If we could find a quarterback every year, and we had the picks to do that, we would do that."

Cutler, meanwhile, seemed perfectly comfortable with the perception that 2013 is a make-or-break season for him.

"That's not up to me to decide. I'm not worried about those things. Every year, you put pressure on yourself," he said. "Every team in the NFL is preparing to win the Super Bowl. We're doing the same thing."

Trestman expressed pleasure in the early returns. Having not worked at all with the players on the field this offseason, Trestman said "our only goal today was to practice fast." The Bears managed to do that despite having just learned what Trestman and Cutler called "a different language."

Cutler admitted he and the new coach are "getting to know each other," and "it's not gonna be something where we just jump in and we're hip and hip, and can finish each other's sentences." Trestman, like Cutler's past offensive coordinators, has come away impressed by the quarterback's football acumen.

"I've just been completely impressed with his level of football intelligence and understanding, and his ability to articulate and communicate in meetings. (Cutler asks) good questions. He's always ahead," Trestman said. "He's been through these things. He's been through these meetings. He's been very well coached along the way. So I'm pretty lucky walking into a room with two guys (in Cutler and backup Josh McCown) with that much football behind them that they can transition into other language and other ways of doing things."