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)