Apparently Jay Cutler is an elite QB, well at least according to Bears’ GM Phil Emery, something that does not sit very well with the legendary Bears’ linebacker Brian Urlacher. In January the Bears signed Cutler to a 7-year $126.7 million contract making him the highest paid QB this season for which he has responded with a 3-5 record. The other day Urlacher stated that Cutler is "Elite in salary only".
Emery responded by pointing out that Cutler is 59-53 lifetime (60-54 counting playoff games) and that alone should put him on the list of “Elite” quarterbacks. While his 60 wins puts him at the #14 rank of wins by active QBs, which is a nice position, it also puts him in the neighborhood of players like Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Alex Smith and Matt Schaub. This particular neighborhood is a nice place to be but none of these guys own a Super Bowl Champion ring and I think that most people will agree that at least one Super Bowl Championship is required to be considered a top flight quarterback.
Personally I am with Urlacher on this one, Cutler is a decent quarterback who excels when he has solid producers around him but he can also loss a game on his own and he is nowhere near guys like Payton Manning, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger or Rodgers. He is 31 years old and with a 7-year contract extension he has time to prove his worth but normally elite QBs show their ability early and get better with age where Cutler has not shown this type of growth and some may even say his best years are behind him.
This is a case where a GM and coach are trying to convince people (and themselves) that they didn't make a mistake with the contract extension in January. They can take to the media and say all they want but with this much money tied up, including $54 million guaranteed, over the next few years the team is going to have trouble bringing in talent and keep under the salary cap.