While the Chicago Bears are in hot pursuit of a trade partner to take quarterback Jay Cutler off their hands, are we even sure Cutler wants to play in 2017?
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that early retirement could be in the cards for Cutler.
“He’s one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play, whether they want to not play, retire, walk away,” Rapoport said Wednesday. “A lot of things in play here for Jay Cutler.”
Rapoport cautions that he isn’t suggesting that Cutler is leaning toward retirement as he enters his age 34 season. Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals both considered retirement after their seasons ended, and both are expected back with their teams to give it another shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl 52. However, aging quarterbacks stepping back to survey the landscape of their careers (and potential future) after another year of taking hits is becoming the new normal.
It’s possible Cutler is floating the idea of retirement in response to recent trade rumors, but, frankly, there aren’t too many quarterbacks who have taken the kind of beating Cutler has in his Bears career.
Since 2010, Cutler has missed games due to a concussion (2010), a broken thumb on his throwing hand (2011), high ankle sprain and groin (2013), hamstring (2015), and torn labrum (2016).
Only five quarterbacks have been sacked more times than Cutler since the start of the 2009 season when he joined the Bears. Cutler was sacked 148 times in his first four years, the third most in the league during that span – but his 7.9 percent sack rate was slightly higher than that of Aaron Rodgers (7.5%) and Ben Roethlisberger (7.6%). And yet, the Bears were 34-22 in Cutler’s starts during that four-year run.
With Cutler as a guide, the Bears could still find a suitor in a trade. He is only one season removed from a career-best 92.3 passer rating, and his career 85.2 rating in Chicago would be an improvement for several teams in search of a short-term bridge answer. But if the Bears can’t find a trade partner that Cutler finds suitable, retirement becomes more of a real option.
Then again, if Cutler is seriously pondering retirement, he isn’t yet showing signs:
On #Bears QB Jay Cutler: Following shoulder surgery, he's been working out/rehabbing & is expected to be able to pass a physical by March
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 22, 2017