At the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine last month, neither Pace nor Fox would commit to Cutler as the team’s starter.
Obviously, things have changed.
“We’ve made that decision,” Pace said. "We went through a process of thoroughly evaluating the roster. We're moving forward with Jay Cutler as our starting quarterback.
"We've spent time with him on a personal basis. It's just getting to know him as a person, like I said initially. Just being thorough with all of that, that helped us come to this conclusion."
Cutler led the Bears to a 5-11 season in 2014 and led the league in turnovers. There were rumors the club was shopping Cutler, yet Pace was adamant that wasn’t the case.
“Zero. We never did that.”
Whether that’s true or not, Cutler’s substantial contract over the next two seasons – he’s owed more than $30 million in base salaries alone in 2015 and 2016 – made it impossible to trade him.
It took Fox and Pace nearly a month and a half to come to a decision on Cutler, one of the touchiest players in the league. Yet Pace said fence-mending wasn't necessary.
"I don’t think so," he said. "This is a new group that’s come in together, a new general manager, new head coach, new coaches and I think this was just a process for us all. So I don’t feel like there was any fence-mending. He understood the process that we were going through. We’re excited together going forward."
Fox said he's also content with Cutler under center, yet never went so far as to call him the starter.
"Obviously [I feel] good," said Fox. "We made the commitment. Time will tell for all of us. We haven’t even been on the grass yet. I’ve watched Jay compete in the past. We gained a lot of information moving forward. I think there’s a talent level there that obviously we feel good enough to explore.
"Like all our players, they’re going to get a chance to compete and see how we perform. That’s the exciting part of all of this."
For better or worse, it appears Cutler will be leading Chicago’s offense this season and most likely in 2016 as well, as $10 million of his 2016 salary becomes fully guaranteed tomorrow.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.