GM Ryan Pace says Bears will keep building with QB Jay Cutler

ByJeff Dickerson ESPN logo
Saturday, February 20, 2016

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Monday that the organization plans to build the offense around quarterback Jay Cutler moving forward.

Cutler, 32, is set to earn a base salary of $16 million in 2016. A large portion of that sum ($10 million) is guaranteed. The remaining $6 million becomes fully guaranteed March 11.

"I think Jay knows that we have extreme confidence in him, and we're going to continue to build the offense around him," Pace said. "I think he knows that. I think he also knows that, 'Hey, we're always going to draft [the] best player available too and acquire as much talent as we can.' So we've been very open and honest with all our players.

"But we have a ton of confidence in him and, guys, he played well this year. I think you guys saw that. The turnovers were down, and he was athletic and extended plays with his feet and did a lot with a lot of injuries at all our skill positions."

Cutler finished the 2015 season with 21 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a career-best 92.3 quarterback rating. He threw 18 interceptions the previous year.

After cycling through four offensive coordinators in six years, Cutler finally clicked this season with Adam Gase, who is now likely to leave for an NFL head-coaching opportunity.

Head coach John Fox confirmed that three teams (Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins) have requested permission to interview Gase.

Are the Bears concerned about the possibility of Cutler regressing without Gase?

"We have extreme confidence in Jay," Pace said. "I wouldn't say that's the case at all. We can still do -- whatever the case is, if Gase leaves or not -- we can do a lot of things similar offensively too. In regards to staff leaving and coaches leaving, we're always going to try to hire the best human talent. When guys are leaving here, that's going to happen when we're doing good things. It's up to us to find the best replacements."

Fox added: "Let me make this clear: Our systems are our systems. They're not any individual's systems; they are our systems. Our systems aren't changing -- offense, defense or special teams. You tweak, and you grow, and you adjust. You have to do that in this league because it's a fluid league. There are trends and things that happen and things that you have to react to regardless of what they are. That's all part of coaching. One of the hard things about being a new staff is introducing those systems, and they won't change."