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Bears QB Jay Cutler ahead of schedule in return from surgery

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace would not elaborate on Jay Cutler's tenuous future with the team, but he did announce that the quarterback's recovery from shoulder surgery is ahead of schedule.

"You know I met with probably 30 players on Monday and one of them was Jay," Pace said on Wednesday. "You know there's a lot of real candid conversations that take place and a lot of transparency and honesty, so some of those things I'd like to keep between us. But I think you know once we make a decision as an organization whatever it is, you know he'll be the first to know and his agent, Bus Cook, will be the first to know, and I made him that promise. But again those decisions haven't been completely finalized yet, but when they are you know he'll know immediately."

Cutler, 33, completed 81 of 137 pass attempts for 1,059 yards, with four touchdowns and five interceptions (78.1 quarterback rating) in only five appearances. Cutler missed five weeks with a thumb injury and then suffered a tear in his right throwing shoulder on Nov. 20 that put him on injured reserve with six games left to play.

"The one thing about Jay is, as far as his rehab from injuries he's almost a freak in regards to recovering from injuries fast," Pace said. "So he's significantly ahead of schedule. He's rehabbing hard and that's encouraging."

Cutler needs a clean bill of health before the Bears can trade him -- one of the options on the table.

The 11-year veteran has not played a full 16-game schedule since 2009. In eight seasons with the Bears, Cutler has passed for 154 touchdowns and 109 interceptions. He led the Bears to just one postseason appearance in 2010.

Cutler did not address the media -- despite repeated requests -- when the Bears cleaned out their lockers on Monday.

The Bears technically can wait until the end of the summer to reach a decision on Cutler, who has no guaranteed money left on his deal.

Cutler's current contract calls for him to earn a $12.5 million base salary in 2017. He can also collect $2.5 million in roster bonuses, but that is paid on a game-by-game basis ($156,250 per game active). Cutler's deal carries only $2 million in dead money.

Cutler's career record as a starter is 68-71.

"I've always been a fan of Jay Cutler," team chairman George McCaskey said. "I love him as a player. I love him off the field. I think he doesn't get enough credit for what he does off the field. As far as the football evaluation, that's up to Ryan and John [Fox]."

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