Cutler could be headed for the franchise tag in 2014 if he and the Bears can’t figure out a contract. It will really depend on how the relationship between Cutler and Trestman develops. For the first time since he arrived, the man in charge of the Bears’ offense appears to have a longer shelf life than the quarterback.
Garza has been steady and helped to ease the transition from Olin Kreutz. Let’s face it, you don’t make a big commitment to a 35 year old offensive lineman without knee ligaments.
Hayden has played well in the nickelback role, but I don’t view him as a pivotal player in the long run. Ideally, a youngster like Brandin Hardon or Isaiah Frey steps into this role and Hayden becomes expendable.
Jennings is a Pro Bowler, so he’s automatically bumped up a notch on the value chart, but frankly, I’d like to see him perform at a Pro Bowl level for more than one season before I commit big paper to him to make sure he’s not a one hit wonder. I have no problem letting him prove it this season.
The 2013 Franchise Tag holder is in a prove it year. He couldn’t be extended once negotiations passed the July 15th deadline. Like Jennings, I like a little pressure on Melton to prove himself. Besides, we don’t know what type of defensive scheme the Bears will be running beyond 2013.
Slauson figures to be a prominent player as the starting LG in 2013. If he plays well, he could earn himself a multi-year deal. Keep in mind, though, that the Bears drafted Kyle Long and have James Brown, both guards that they really like.
Of all the guys on this list, I think Tillman has earned an extension. He has gotten better in recent years, as evidenced by his back-to-back Pro Bowls. Peanut is one of the leaders on the defense and deserves an extension until he proves he can’t play.
Talk about a make-or-break year for Webb. Of anyone on this list, Webb is certainly at or near the top of the list of guys I want to see in a contract year. If he can get his head screwed on right, he has all the tools that you would like a starting OT to possess.
Wootton had a sort of mini-breakout season in 2012 and he’s built on that in camp so far this season. The Bears are confident enough in Wootton that they let Izzy Idonije walk. He’s one of the few young building blocks on an aging defense. I’d like to see him back if he can continue to develop and become an every down DE.
It looks like the Bears have finally settled on a safety pairing that they’re happy with in Wright and Chris Conte. Wright has steadily improved and looks like another young building block.
S0 there’s my list within a list within a list of the real contract concerns heading into 2014. It’s not as scary and everyone would have you believe.
What do you think? Who did I leave off my list that you think should be a higher priority for Phil Emery and the Bears? What do you think of the whole no contract extension thing? Will guys be selfish and play for themselves or will this help the Bears in 2013? Let’s hear your comments!