The Chicago Bears owe Jay Cutler $13 million in guaranteed money next season. With no other quarterback options on the roster, Cutler is a safe bet to once again suit up in the navy and orange next season.
Yet beyod 2016, the Bears owe Cutler a total of just $3 million in guaranteed cash, while saving $16M, $17M, $20M and $21M the following four years by releasing him.
Despite being signed through 2020, next year could be Cutler's final season in Chicago, as he's led the team to just one playoff berth in seven seasons, and just twice finished the regular season with a winning record.
That doesn't all fall on Cutler but there's a reason only quarterbacks and head coaches have win-loss records. As such, don't be surprised if GM Ryan Pace tries to find Cutler's long-term replacement in this year's draft.
Coming out of the Senior Bowl, everyone has been talking about North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. At 6-6, 235, Wentz has prototypical NFL size for a quarterback and he showed in Mobile the ability to make every NFL-level throw.
The big-armed passer can push the ball down the field with ease and he has some serious ability as a runner as well. In 16 starts as a junior, he threw for 3,111 yards and 25 TDs, while adding 642 rushing yards. A broken wrist limited Wentz to just seven games as a senior, yet he still threw for 1,651 yards and 17 TDs. His QB rating the past two seasons: 154.1 and 152.3.
Wentz is also a winner, helping guide the Bisons to two straight FCS Championships.
There are concerns about his lack of top-tier competition but in terms of measurables and overall skill set, he's the complete package.
The Bears have the 11th overall pick in this year's draft, which gives 10 other teams before them the opportunity to select Wentz. Yet only the Cleveland Browns, who will soon sever ties with Johnny Manziel, are guaranteed to select a signal caller. Other than the Browns, there are no QB desperate teams in the Top 10, unless Jerry Jones feels Tony Romo is on his last leg.
As such, there's a real possibility that Wentz could drop to the Bears at 11th overall, assuming the Browns draft California's Jared Goff.
If that scenario plays out, will the Bears select Wentz with the 11th pick in the draft?
GM Ryan Pace has said on numerous occassions that he believes quarterback is the most important position on the team and that if he feels a QB is the best player available in the first round, he'll draft him, Cutler or no Cutler.
If Pace feels that Wentz is worth the hype and can be a long-term starter in the NFL, I don't think there's any doubt he'll take the strong-armed passer in the first round. In that scenario, the Bears could let Wentz sit and learn for one year under Cutler, before handing him the keys to the car in his second season.
The Bears have a lot of needs on the defensive side of the ball but there's no way Pace is going to pass up a franchise passer. If Wentz falls out of the Top 10, he'll be playing in Chicago next season.