This is how the Jay Cutler era in Chicago ends, with a thumb injury and Brian Hoyer. Cutler is still injured and sitting out for the second week in a row. In his absence, the Chicago Bears are willing to let Hoyer to take over the starting job if he continues to play well, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Cutler left during a Week 2 loss to the Eagles, leaving the game with a fumble and an a very Cutler-esque interception. With just one-and-a-half games played this season, Cutler had two interceptions and two fumbles.
Since taking over, professional backup Brian Hoyer has thrown four touchdowns for 697 yards. Best of all, he hasn’t thrown a pick, something that has to be refreshing for the struggling Bears, who won their first game of the season last week against the Lions.
The breakup between the Bears and Cutler has been coming for a long time. Most of us thought it would happen when the team hired John Fox in 2015, part of a massive overhaul and rebuild the organization needs to conduct. But Cutler’s contract made that impossible. Cutting him last year would have left nearly $30 million in dead money. It wasn’t any easier to move on this spring. The seven-year, $126 million deal he signed in 2014 would have left the Bears with $19 million in dead money.
The Bears never had a viable option to replace Cutler — until now. Hoyer’s been perfectly average as a fill-in role with the Browns and Texans, two teams where being average makes you look like a truly elite quarterback. He now finds himself in a similar situation with the Bears.
It should be noted that the door isn’t entirely shut on Cutler returning as the Bears’ starter this season. Hoyer could still implode and his injury history make it impossible to count on him for 12 more games.
But this would apparently point to the end of Cutler’s time in Chicago. He’s got a $16 million cap hit next season, and it keeps going up through 2020, the last year of his deal. However, cutting him in 2017 would only leave the Bears with $2 million in dead money.
Cutler turns 34 next spring. He’s bound to get another shot somewhere else, assuming the Bears do part ways with him.