Next year, as in every year, there will be debate about how good of a quarterback Jay Cutler is. Somebody somewhere — probably on ESPN — will ask whether or not Jay Cutler is “elite,” even though that word is nebulous when it comes to rating quarterbacks and doesn’t actually mean anything.
Let’s not forget that it’s a word that has been attached to Joe Flacco and Eli Manning too.
Now, while people will waste their time over that pointless debate, there is one aspect about Cutler in which there is no debate. His new deal with the Bears is “elite” enough to make sure that Cutler will have the largest cap hit of any player in the NFL next season.
Joel Corry, a former agent, broke down the ten largest cap hits of NFL players for the 2014 season, and Cutler was at the top, checking in at $22.5 million. Holy shits aside, here’s what Corry wrote about Cutler.
Cutler signed a new seven-year, $126.7 million deal within days of the 2013 regular season ending. Of that, $54 million of his contract is guaranteed. He also receives $54 million in the first three years. The deal’s structure raised eyebrows because Cutler’s 2014 cap number is approximately $6.4 million more than the projected non-exclusive quarterback franchise tag number. The Bears can lower Cutler’s cap number because they can create cap room at any time during the deal with their discretionary right to convert a portion of his base salary into signing bonus. Exercising the right this year may be necessary because the Bears have $121.97 million in 2014 cap commitments with 47 players under contract while the top 51 cap numbers count during the off-season.
I’m not going to pretend I know the inner workings of the NFL’s salary cap and how or why converting “a portion of his base salary into signing bonus” would lower his cap hit. I just know that $22.5 million is a huge fucking number for 2014, even if it will drop in following seasons.
What I do know is that the Bears need as much cap room as they can get if they’re going to fix a defense that was terrible in 2013. Oh, and speaking of the Bears defense, Cutler is not the only Bear on the list of top ten cap hits in 2014.
Julius Peppers is on there too.
Peppers checks in at No. 8 with a hit of $18,183,333. According to Corry, if the Bears were to just cut Peppers this offseason that would give then an additional $9.8 million of cap space. Whether or not that’s enough space to pay somebody to make up for Peppers’ production, well, that’s for Phil Emery to figure out.
What I do know is that the projected NFL salary cap in 2014 is $126.3 million, and at the moment the Bears have $40,683,333 (32.2% of their cap space) tied up in only two players.
Something tells me that will change by the time August rolls around.
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