Daily Herald
If Bears do believe, no price too high
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 4/1/2009 12:01 AM

Nothing matters if the Bears don't think Jay Cutler is a franchise quarterback.

No, not even that Denver owner Pat Bowlen threw up his hands Tuesday and announced the Broncos will commence Cutler trade discussions with other teams.

Whichever team acquires the 25-year-old, three-year veteran, Pro Bowl quarterback better be 100 percent committed to him.

Landing Cutler would be risky business. The price will be exorbitant, and his psyche is problematic.

So the Bears better fully believe that Cutler has the arm, mobility and attitude to take a team to a championship.

If the Bears do believe that, no price is too high for Cutler.

This team has been trying to thrive, or just survive, with a quarterback that teammates have to make better.

It's time for a quarterback that makes teammates better.

If the Bears are convinced Cutler is that guy, they should treat it like they just had a terrible season, are drafting No. 1 overall and must start rebuilding at the game's most important position.

In other words, exchange perpetual mediocrity for potential excellence.

What it amounts to is taking a few steps back right away, perhaps suffering for a couple of years and expecting Cutler to be the quarterback of a Super Bowl contender for the subsequent decade.

For example, like the Cowboys did when they took Troy Aikman. They went 1-15 his rookie season before he led them to three championships.

Franchise quarterbacks normally come into desperate situations. If the Bears have to strip down to the Bear essentials to get Cutler, then that's what they have to do.

When general manager Jerry Angelo said right after last season ended that he's fixated on fixing the quarterback position, he couldn't have known Cutler would be available.

But what Angelo did know was how important a quarterback is. He knew it even as the Bears reached the 2007 Super Bowl with Rex Grossman.

Angelo pointed out that week that a team needs a Hall of Fame quarterback - or at least a Pro Bowl-type quarterback - to be a consistent title contender.

When it became clear Grossman wasn't that player, it was time to start over again.

The Bears can hope all they want that Kyle Orton would fill the role. Sure, a team can win with him, but it better have good players everywhere else on offense and an immovable defense.

It's just so much easier to start with a great quarterback than to make him the last piece of the puzzle.

So here the Bears are, facing an available Cutler and having to decide what to do about it.

Most would imagine that the conservative, deliberate, methodical Bears will find an excuse not to pursue Cutler instead of a reason to pursue him.

The most obvious out would be that Cutler is a whiny weasel who took his ball and went home after perceiving the Broncos disrespected him.

However, that also could be construed as a positive. Doesn't it take a lot of manhood to defy the NFL establishment's hold on players?

Anyway, it would be exciting if the Bears considered that a reason to trade for Jay Cutler - after they determined he indeed is a franchise quarterback.

Man, it sure seems like the risk-reward equation tilts toward reward in this case.

mimrem@dailyherald.com