Jaworski: Bears shouldn't pay Cutler

Is Jay Cutler worthy of a $100 million contract, which is the going rate for franchise quarterbacks? AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski obviously isn’t sold on Jay Cutler. He laid out a compelling case for why the Chicago Bears shouldn’t give the quarterback a long-term deal.

Jaworski pointed out that his opinion doesn’t make Cutler a bad quarterback. But Cutler’s eight-year body of work, coupled with how he’s played in 2013 leads Jaworski to believe there simply hasn’t been enough growth to be optimistic about the future. Besides that, the going rate for franchise quarterbacks these days is approximately $100 million. Jaworski writes:

The issue is that we're no longer talking about things he can learn. He's 30 years old, in his eighth season with over 100 games to his name. He's played for some very good coaches. At what point do we stop saying, "He's got to show me more," and close the book on him, knowing that for better and worse this is Jay Cutler?

Jaworski contends the Bears should apply the franchise tag to Cutler and make the quarterback play out another prove-it year, which I totally agree with for many of the same reasons as Jaworski with a few of my own listed here. Here’s more from Jaworski:

I believe many of these shortcomings are the symptoms of what I see on the game film: inconsistent mechanics.

Yes, the Bears have had some poor offensive-line play the past few seasons, but the protection has been above average this season and I'm still seeing poor mechanics from Cutler. Even when that offensive line sets him up with a clean cradle with which to work, he's not setting his feet, he's making poor reads, he's trying to squeeze the ball into nonexistent windows, and he's sometimes delivering the ball from awkward angles when he doesn't have to. Those are not the hallmarks of a franchise quarterback. Also, Cutler continues to hold the ball low, leaving it vulnerable for strips.

The problem with moving on from Cutler is the Bears would be tasked with finding another quarterback this offseason to replace him. The club could draft a quarterback and opt to bring back backup Josh McCown to tutor the young signal-caller until he’s ready to become the starter.

The Bears could also opt to pursue another quarterback in free agency. Matt Cassel, Kellen Clemens, Josh Freeman, Matt Flynn, Rex Grossman, Chad Henne and Michael Vick will all be available.

Jaworski also wonders whether Cutler’s modest success this season is a product of him carrying the offense as opposed to the system carrying him. Jaworski closes with this:

As I mentioned earlier, the numbers and the evidence working against Cutler don't paint him as a bad quarterback. But his inconsistent play and lack of dominance don't suggest he's a championship-caliber quarterback, either. And that's what I'm looking for if I'm running a team.

When I evaluate QBs for my quarterly Big Board, I'm looking for the quarterback who is going to go win a Super Bowl. That's admittedly a high standard, but I can guarantee that's exactly what the NFL's coaches and front offices are looking for, as well. No one's saying, "I want a QB who can lock down that second wild card!"

But based on his body of work, that’s exactly what Cutler seems to be at this point.