Jay Cutler wasn't going to find a situation as favorable as the one he already had with the Chicago Bears. Frankly, quite a few quarterbacks would trade their current setups for a chance to play under coach Marc Trestman and within an offense featuring a franchise running back, three Pro Bowl-caliber receiving targets and an improved offensive line. The Bears likewise could do much worse than Cutler at quarterback. They have in the past, for sure.
And so when news broke Thursday that Cutler and the Bears had agreed on a contract extending their marriage for the long term, the feeling was that all sides had acted sensibly. The issue isn't really whether Cutler was an "elite" quarterback or whether he deserved the $18 million average he will reportedly get over the first three seasons. The issue was whether this deal beat the alternatives for all involved, and there are compelling reasons to think that it does.
The question now is what the deal means for the Bears as they seek to build a Super Bowl contender. The money going to Cutler not only defines Chicago at the most critical position, it also affects the resources available as the Bears seek to upgrade a defense that allowed 2.36 points per drive -- a figure that ranked 379th out of 384 teams since 2002. With Cutler now locked up, the focus falls squarely on their defense. Where do the Bears now stand?