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Jay Cutler could be the Bears’ problem next year too

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The Bears could keep Cutler around in 2017. They shouldn’t.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Quitting smoking is one the most difficult things a person can do. Quitting smokin’ Jay Cutler could be just as hard for the Chicago Bears.

It’s been widely assumed that this would be Cutler’s last season in Chicago. There’s no more guaranteed money to pay him under his current contract, and the Bears could walk away from it with a meager cap hit of $2 million.

And why wouldn’t they? Cutler’s gives-no-fucks demeanor has been criticized time and time again. In 2014, he got benched by former head coach Marc Trestman, and a lack of leadership from both Cutler and the coach was cited as one factor in the team’s failures on the field. This season, there have been reports of locker room tension stemming from Cutler, something he’s denied.

But now comes word that the Bears could end up hanging on to Cutler in 2017, even with the possibility of head coach John Fox getting the boot after the season.

So why would the Bears be so inclined to keep Cutler?

Part of it has to do with the timing of a potential shoulder surgery. If he had it now, he’d be good to go in time for free agency but would miss the rest of the season, a season in which Chicago’s already playing for draft position. If he waits, he might not be healthy again when teams are most likely to overspend on a veteran quarterback prone to extreme highs and lows on the field, on the sidelines, and in the locker room.

His contract is another factor. He’s relatively cheap for a quarterback come 2017. The Bears would only owe him $15 million.

Brian Hoyer is a free agent after this season. Ian Rapoport’s report notes that had Hoyer stayed healthy, he’d be the Bears’ starter. And staying healthy has been a bigger challenge for Hoyer than playing good football from week to week.

Then there’s the draft, which isn’t considered to be a very good one for quarterbacks (which is similar to what they said about the last one and the one before that). Still, the Bears are in need of a serious rebuild. There’s some young talent here, but they’ve got to bring in more pieces of the foundation to build around for the future.

Cutler might be a decent enough Band-Aid, but he’s a Band-Aid that could end up causing more problems than the one it’s meant to fix.