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Bears still evaluating Cutler, others

Posted Feb 18, 2015

As they continue to conduct a thorough evaluation of their roster, the Bears have yet to determine whether some veteran players—including quarterback Jay Cutler—will remain with the team.

INDIANAPOLIS – As they continue to conduct a thorough evaluation of their roster, the Bears have yet to determine whether some veteran players will remain with the team.

"We're not up against any kind of deadline at this point, so we're just continuing to evaluate and gather information so we can make good decisions," coach John Fox said at the NFL Combine.

Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall

The player who generated the most questions Wednesday was quarterback Jay Cutler. After multiple queries from reporters, Fox joked: "So we're going to ask this about eight different ways?"

"I don't think there's any question that there's ability and talent there," Fox said. "But there's a lot more that goes into it and we're evaluating that as we speak."

Fox and general manager Ryan Pace both stressed that they've seen what Cutler can do on the field but want to get to know him off the field before making a decision on his future with the team.

"Everybody's got perceptions," Fox said. "But I think getting to know the guy, this is a relationship business and that takes time. So I don't want to stand up here and give you a final evaluation when I'm maybe a fourth through the test.

"We're going to take the full amount of time to gather information, visit and build a relationship and hopefully make the best decision for our organization."

Asked if Cutler will be the Bears' starting quarterback in 2015, Pace said: "We're still evaluating all that, obviously going through this whole thing. I don't want to rush any decisions. I want to max out the time that we have and just be thorough with every one of these.

"There are a lot of things outside of the building that I think are maybe a little misunderstood. When you get to know somebody, things are different when you get to talk face-to-face. I know he's a very talented player and it's just getting to know him as a person and how he ticks."

After signing a lucrative long-term contract extension a year ago, Cutler was benched late last season. In 15 starts, he threw for 3,812 yards and posted an 88.6 passer rating. Cutler tossed a career-high 28 touchdown passes, but led the NFL with 18 interceptions and 24 turnovers.

"There's a lot we see on tape obviously, but there are things we want to know more about the player, and that goes for all players," Pace said.

"Cutler has outstanding physical talent, there's no denying that. It's just getting to know the individual and all of the other intangibles that make a great quarterback. That's what we're doing now. That really takes getting to know the person. Me and John have both been around all different kinds of quarterbacks; it's just figuring out him as a person."

That process will continue when Pace and Fox return to Halas Hall from the Combine.

"We've met with several of our players individually, [Cutler] being one," Pace said. "So far everything's been good. We're going to take our time on this. We really have until mid-March. We're going to maximize that time and make thorough decisions through this whole process.

"There is a time frame. But I think it is intelligent and smart of us to utilize that entire time and be thorough with all these decisions. It's not just the quarterback but everybody. Why wouldn't we be? I just want to be patient and thorough on the film and talking to the players individually as we go through the whole thing."

Veteran receiver Brandon Marshall is in the same situation as Cutler. Marshall has been highly productive, but has been criticized in the media for creating distractions.

"We met with him like a lot of individual players and that's going to be a slow process and we look forward to evaluating that," Pace said. "Sometimes these reputations outside the building, you get inside and it's not what you expected. I think we need to make our own decisions and our own judgments and that's the process we're going through right now."