Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bears show QB Cutler the money -- lots of it

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- If the Bears make changes this off-season, it will not be at quarterback.

Chicago signed Jay Cutler to a seven-year contract Thursday, ending speculation they might make a change after five seasons of good and bad from their talented signal-caller. Cutler clearly thrived under first-year coach Marc Trestman and now has some of the best complements on offence he's had since arriving in Chicago in 2009.

"It's not always been easy," Cutler said. "There's been some ups and downs. There's been some bad years there's been some good years. I think it makes me appreciate the moment I'm in even more, with the offensive weapons we have, with the type of leadership we have from the front office, with the type of coaching staff we have with the play calling and our (offensive) install. It makes me happy I'm here."

The Bears also signed cornerback Tim Jennings, who has led the team in interceptions in each of the past two seasons, and guard Matt Slauson to four-year deals. Like Cutler, both players were scheduled to become free agents.

General manager Phil Emery said the team and Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, completed contract discussions three days after the season ended Sunday with a 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers in a game that decided the NFC North title. Terms were not disclosed, but the deal for the 30-year-old Cutler is reportedly worth nearly $18 million per year over the first three years and includes at least $50 million guaranteed.

"I think whenever you have two groups who want to work in the same direction and want the same thing to happen it can happen relatively pretty easily," Emery said.

Cutler produced his career-best passer rating of 89.2 in 2013, although he played in just 11 games due to injuries. He completed 224 of 355 passes for 2,621 yards and 19 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2014 C6

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