Stakes are high for Cutler in contract year

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- We know all about Jay Cutler playing for a new contract this season. If he plays exceptionally well or, even better, leads the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl, he can expect the really big bucks. If he merely plays well and gets the Bears into the playoffs, then it's probably just reasonably big money for a guy already making $8.47 million in base salary.

But for Cutler, the stakes may be bigger than the bucks.

Whether he wants to call it a career crossroads or not -- and he does not -- Cutler is playing for something almost as valuable to a professional athlete, particularly one with his pedigree, and that's control over his career.

Going into his eighth NFL season, Cutler is quite possibly looking at going from a starting quarterback some (albeit) misguidedly label as top tier, to a player teetering on the edge of No. 2 status.

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