Ryan Pace on Jay Cutler’s future with the Bears: “It’s fluid”
INDIANAPOLIS – As in years past, the most exciting part of the NFL Combine for Bears fans comes within the first few hours of the workouts.
The funny thing is that it’s not even a workout at all.
That’s early Wednesday morning when Ryan Pace meets the media to update as much as he would like to about the happenings with his Bears team. It’s the first time he’s talked since the postseason news conference back in early January.
The most compelling question for reporters, obviously, was the future of Jay Cutler. The quarterback is under contract but the reports and perception are that his eight-year run with the team will come to an end now that there is no more guaranteed money on his contract.
At the moment, however, Pace wasn’t able to shed a ton of light on what the Bears might do with Cutler.
“He’s under contract, so it’s fluid,” said Pace of Cutler. “There is a lot of conversation going on between us, Bus Cook (Cutler’s Agent).”
That was expected after the quarterback’s injury-riddled 2016 season saw him play in just five games. Acquired in 2009 to help bring stability to an unstable position for the franchise, Cutler has led the Bears to just one playoff appearance in his eight years in Chicago.
While Pace wouldn’t say if the Bears wish to cut ties with the quarterback, he was quick to point out his belief that there was an open channel of communication between himself and the Cutler camp.
“It’s at times like these that relationship is important because we can be honest and transparent,” said Pace of Cook. “I think he’s one of the top agents out there and I think that helps this process.”
If the Bears follow through and move on from Cutler, the pressure then falls on Pace to replace him. A trade with the New England Patriots for their backup quarterback and Arlington Heights native Jimmy Garoppolo might be fading per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Should that door close pace could choose to draft his future quarterback with the No. 3 pick in the draft or later on. There is the possibility of bringing back last year’s backups Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as well, thought the latter would likely be retained only as a backup.
“The number of different options,” said Pace when asked about what stands out to him about the possibilities at quarterback for the team. “Whether it’s trades, or free agents, or draft or stay the course with what we have. We have a lot of different options and honestly I have to be flexible because there are a lot of unpredictable things along the way.
“We’ve kind gone over every situation and that’s where we’re at.”
Pace also confirmed that the Bears would not place the franchise tag on receiver Alshon Jeffery, saying that it might be necessary for the him to hit the open market to access his value after failing to come to a long-term agreement for over a year. During his news conference Pace also confirmed that guard Kyle Long will not have surgery on his shoulder as was planned earlier this season.