Starting out the offseason with a bang

Unfortunately, the Bears offseason has started early. They had numerous opportunities to win that game, but in the end, they fell short to Green Bay, something we have grown accustomed to seeing.

In the week leading up to the game against the Packers, the Bears gave out two contract extensions. Phil Emery handed Robbie Gould a huge contract for a kicker, giving him $9 million guaranteed. This was the biggest guaranteed contract ever given to a kicker. Gould has certainly been a consistent Chicago Bear since arriving in the Windy City in 2005. He was picked up off the streets by Jerry Angelo, and he has done a tremendous job ever since. To me, this one might be the extension that bites the organization in the ass. Gould missed a few big field goals in 2013 and was only the 12th most accurate kicker for the season. Kickers shouldn’t take up in the area of $4 million every season in cap space, especially on a team that needs every dollar to improve it’s horrendous defense. Let’s hope Gould can get back to his 2011 form, because in 2012, he wasn’t great either.

The other was Tony Fiammetta, something that nobody saw coming. Fiammetta has bounced around the league some, but ever since July, anyone with a brain could see that this was going to be a good spot for him. He really did a good job this year as a blocker, so the contract was earned. He opened up lanes for Matt Forte and was a big reason for Forte’s success. On the very, very few times he was called upon to make a catch, he made it. The extension is probably only worth $1.5 to $2 million annually, and even though two years is probably one year too long, it’s nice to have a quality fullback in town until 2016.

Today, it was just supposed to be an ordinary, postseason press conference for the Bears’ head coach and general manager. While it was, Emery got it started off with a blockbuster announcement. He, George McCaskey and Cliff Stein got contract extensions completed with G Matt Slauson, CB Tim Jennings, and QB Jay Cutler.

Matt Slauson was one of the Bears’ best signings when it was finalized back in the spring. Slauson was always a quality guard for the Jets, and he provides a nastiness and veteran leadership to the offensive line. Beyond that, he performed well for Chicago. Once again, four years is a long time for someone of this position unless they are one of the league’s best, but letting Slauson go would have been a mistake. Letting one guard walk to sign another is counterproductive and a waste of time. It’s good to know that the Bears finally have a steady offensive line.

Getting Tim Jennings back in the fold for four more years was a must. With Charles Tillman likely playing elsewhere this upcoming season, Emery had to sign Jennings. Going into the season against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and whomever the Vikings select at pick #8 without your two starting cornerbacks would have proven to be a costly mistake. Jennings may be small and he probably can’t guard the Calvin Johnson‘s of the world, but nobody on defense was steadier than Jennings in 2013 for the Bears. Pro Football Focus rated he and Nate Collins as Chicago’s only two defensive players in the “positive category” this year. I expect Emery to address the other spot in free agency (New England’s Aqib Talib, Green Bay’s Sam Shields, or Captain Munnerlyn, who they had interest in last offseason) or in the draft (Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard).

Of course, the extension that everyone will be talking about is the 7 year deal given to Jay Cutler. Like everything else Cutler does or says, this move will be under the microscope for a long time. Brandon Marshall has tweeted that it will be $126 million total, so that comes out to $18 million per season. Essentially, Emery believes that Cutler can work successfully with Marc Trestman toward winning Super Bowls. This contract will most likely be front loaded within the first three or four seasons, which means that Cutler has 3-4 years to take the Bears’ offense to new heights. The contract will hopefully have a cap hit under $9 or $10 million for the first few years. If Cutler doesn’t perform well enough, that will likely mean the end of Cutler, Emery and Trestman in Chicago.

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1 on twitter)

11 Responses to “Starting out the offseason with a bang”

  1. Excellent news – I know cutler isn’t popular with a lot of bears fans but the question if we let him leave is who would you replace him with. We had a pretty potent offence this year and going into its second year under trestman and co it should go onto better things. Now if emery can just build a decent defence then it could be a happy time to be a bear in 2014

  2. When we traded for Cutler, I was ecstatic and said at the time if the Bears did things right, they’d either play in a Super Bowl and/or win one in the first 3 years he was here. Obviously the Bears didn’t do it right, and that didn’t happen.

    I now feel a lot differently about Cutler. I haven’t analyzed the financial numbers too much but my feeling now is once you start to look at the $$ and his actual career numbers, I don’t have confidence we’ll get the value needed for the contract. I also hear a lot of noise about the supposed leaderships he’s showing, but I don’t see it. He still looks and sounds to me like the same unproven and arrogant player that many Broncos fans said good riddance to.

    If we get to the SB or win one by say 2017, obviously it will be worth it, but I highly doubt it, and if we haven’t gotten there by then it’s not likely to happen at all.

    Another scenario is say by 2017-18 or so, say we get to the playoffs once, that’s not going to be nearly good enough. Bottom line is Emery’s coughing up big money to a guy that’s 1-8 vs the Packers, and Rodgers isn’t going anywhere for the next decade.

  3. One other thing I forgot to mention – as I listened to Emery’s press conference, he was reciting Jay’s stats and he cited number of picks, I think 112. Why he would even bring up a stat like that in a press conference announcing a new 7-year deal for him is beyond me.

  4. Emery never cited interceptions. He mentioned that Cutler has missed 12 games in his career.

  5. So let me get this straight – Lovie, back in the fold for all of a few days and with all that big time street cred, manages to bring on Leslie Frazier as his new DC. Meanwhile, Mel Tucker is still around and safe until told otherwise?

    Also heard John Clayton this afternoon saying in reference to Tucker being under fire that the the Bears are “doing everything they can to try and keep him and everyone together” from a defensive perspective. Yes, that certainly does make a lot of sense.

  6. I didn’t see that Clayton article but if that is true then yikes! Need to totally clean house at safety and DE. DT, Ratliff has some promise but that’s about it. LB we have 1 good player at the end of his career. Melton might be worth resigning but who knows if he can get back to his 2012 form. If Tillman still wants to play after all those injuries (I think he might just retire), move him to safety and play Bowman at corner with Jennings. Hope we have lots of picks in April!

  7. Well, now Cutler has something in common with Obama; they’re both making me look forward to 2017!

  8. Also, I’m not going to go back and check the transcript, but yes, Emery did cite picks, I know I heard it and he said 112. I’ll admit it if I’m wrong, but I heard it myself and he did.

  9. On the other hand, 2013 was Robbie’s highest FG% season of his career.

    Robbie is kind of unusual in that his FG% does not waver as much as other kickers. Most kickers have huge swings in their percentages. Take this year’s leader, Matt Prater (Denver):
    2008: 73.5%
    2009: 85.7%
    2010: 88.9%
    2011: 76.0%
    2012: 81.3%
    2013: 96.2%
    (from http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/P/PratMa20.htm )

    compared to Robbie:
    2006: 88.9%
    2007: 86.1%
    2008: 89.7%
    2009: 85.7%
    2010: 83.3%
    2011: 87.5%
    2012: 84.0%
    2013: 89.7%
    (from http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/gouldrob01.htm )

    Robbie’s percentage is pretty much always within the 84-90 range. Which is why giving him a bigger contract is a decent move IMHO.

  10. I think if Emery gets creative with how he structures any free agent contracts he can do a ton in this offseason with the defense.

    CUT: Peppers, Podlesh, Weems, Bush, Bennett

    Let Melton, Ratliff, Wotten, Anderson, Collins, Cohen walk.

    SIGN: DE Bennett-5 million per year, DE Houston-6 per year, SS Ward-6 per year, Talib-5.5 per year.

    RESIGN: Garza and Williams for 2 each per year.

    DRAFT: 1) Tuitt-DE, Notre Dame (play him as a DT) 2) Pryor-FS, Louisville
    3) Gains-CB, Missou 4) Jones-DT, Penn St 5) Johnson-DT, LSU. 6) Ikard-C, Oklahoma 6)Ward-SS, Northern Illinois

    If Emery can spread some of the contracts to keep the cap hit low this is doable.

    Also consider trading Briggs and a fifth round pick for an additional forth or third.

  11. He did cite interceptions in the press conference, but you made it seem like he was doing it negatively. He mentioned his stats, which are 155 touchdowns and 112 interceptions. It’s not like he only pointed out the picks.

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