Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is in the final year of his contract extension with the franchise. To this point Cutler has failed to live up to the expectations heaped upon him after the trade. Cutler has been at best an average NFL quarterback who has played well at times, but who has ultimately struggled to produce against key division opponents.
Cutler hasn't had much help on offense, but the weapons around Cutler have only gotten better each year. Add to it the Bears defense has played an extremely high level since 2010, so high a level for the Bears to make the playoffs likely would have taken a slightly above average performance from Cutler.
The face of the franchise has been hampered by injuries and an anemic offensive line. Heading into the 2013 season however Cutler now has a completely new offensive line and new weapons in the passing game. It would seem that Cutler should have the best season of his career and be able to command big bucks in free agency.
However with the mercurial quarterback, nothing is certain, and Cutler himself mentioned that it will likely take three years for the Bears to completely and fully install and understand the offense. Problem is Cutler doesn't have three more years to live up to his elite talent level. Further complicating matters for the Chicago, there's no young player behind Cutler to push him or possibly replace him if he doesn't produce.
So where would that leave the Bears? They certainly can't rely on Matt Blanchard, nor can they expect a 35-year-old Josh McCown to come in and be the man. So where would the Bears look?
At first blush the Bears might look in the 2014 NFL Draft for their future. The problem there is there's only one sure fire QB in this draft that looks like he's fully capable of being a franchise QB. Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville however will be long off the board before the Bears draft.
So what's the next option? Perhaps the most intriguing option may be the Bears trading for Kirk Cousins the young hot shot backup QB for the Washington Redskins. Cousins was a fourth round pick of the Washington Redskins and already seems to have a handle on Mike Shannahan's west coast offensive system.
Cousins has the pedigree to be a West Coast offense QB and he came in and single-handedly save the Redskins season last year. Cousins stat line for 2012, 466 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions while completing a shade under 70 percent of his passes.
He also engineered a game-winning drive against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, and shredded the Cleveland Browns for 329 yards and two touchdowns, on the road no less.
You can shake your head at the Browns and argue that the Ravens have an old defense, but it takes a lot for a rookie QB to come in with little to no practice time and guide a game-winning drive.
Cousins may also get another chance to pad his resume during the 2013 season. RGIII is coming back from major ACL knee surgery and an injury. While he's on track to potentially be back by the season opener, Cousins has stated he's preparing as if he's going to be the starter for the opener. The Redskins have to be cautious with the face of the franchise and may elect to elevate Cousins' off-season trade value while protecting their massive investment.
Put Cousins under Trestman's tutelage in his system, with the surrounding cast that the Bears have on offense and it seems like an intriguing option. One option I hope that the Bears NEVER have to explore.