Jay Cutler has been sacked at a higher per-game rate than any NFL quarterback over the past three years, so naturally he expressed relief Wednesday that the Chicago Bears had finally found him a legitimate left tackle. In an appearance on ESPN 1000 , Cutler discussed the Bears' acquisition of Jermon Bushrod (and tight end Martellus Bennett) and his take on linebacker Brian Urlacher's uncertain status. Cutler also acknowledged he isn't likely to receive a contract extension before the start of the 2013 season.
A few snippets of the conversation:
On Bushrod's arrival
Jay Cutler: "Makes life easier, that's for sure. Not only for me, just for game-planning. Take a guy like that, stick him over there and say, 'You got that guy. [We] don't have to worry about him. You got him.' The rest of the line can kind of turn and slide the other way. So, similar situation in Denver when I had Ryan Clady as a rookie [in 2008]. He made game-planning easy for us."
On how important it is to get Urlacher back:
JC: "It would be nice. We're pretty up against the cap a little it. We'll see what happens. It's hard to lose a guy like that, on the field, off the field, just his presence. A Hall of Fame player. I think it's important. Everyone wants to get him back. It's just business. It's a shame that things sometimes come down to that. Hopefully it works out. We'll have to wait and see."
How different would the locker room be?
JC: "I've been with teams where you lose players like that. Cornerstones of the franchise. It happens. Other guys have to step up. We've played some games in the past without him. His presence has always been there. If it doesn't work out, and we have to part ways with him, then some other guys have to step up and we'll find some other leaders along the way."
Do you think you'll enter the season without a new contract?
JC: "Yeah, I think that's probably the way we're headed. We haven't really talked about anything. We're upgrading at certain positions. I don't think we are really in position to do my deal. [General manager Phil Emery] has got a plan worked out, so we'll have to see what happens. I'm perfectly comfortable in the position I'm in. If we go into it in just this last year, then so be it. I'll play it out and we'll see what happens at the end of the year."
For what it's worth, and despite a brief Twitter discussion we had Wednesday, I didn't find Cutler's response on Urlacher to be cold or even ambivalent. Cutler is a veteran player who understands it is far from inconceivable that Urlacher might not be back with the Bears. As jarring as that would be for fans and perhaps some teammates, Hall of Fame-type careers end every year in the NFL. Cutler's response reflected reality: If Urlacher leaves, other players will have to step up into the void.
Bears note: To no one's surprise, the Bears released tight end Kellen Davis after Bennett signed a four-year, $20 million contract to replace him. Davis' departure will save the Bears $2.5 million in salary cap space.