In April 2009 the Chicago Bears made a bold move and traded Kyle Orton, two first round picks (2009, 2010), and a third round pick (2009) to the Denver Broncos for Jay Cutler and a fifth round pick (2009).
This was a hefty price for young quarterback entering his fourth year as a pro, even if he did throw for nearly 4,500 yards in the previous year. At the moment this trade happened, Cutler was facing an uphill battle to prove he was worth the deal.
Four years later, Cutler's legacy as a Bear is a record of 37-24, 72 touchdowns and 63 interceptions thrown, and one playoff win.
Though Jay Cutler's one playoff win ties him with Tony Romo and Matt Ryan, he's not yet considered by the local media and fans as a peer of the aforementioned signal callers.
Some people might not know that during Jay Cutler's run as a Bear he became the franchise leader in passer rating (81.9), completion percentage (59.6), all time passing yards (12,292), and passing touchdowns (82) which isn't bad four just five seasons. He also ranks third among active quarterbacks in fourth quarter comebacks since 2007.
While these numbers have been common place throughout the league, they haven't been in Chicago. There are some fair doubts about his decision making, but Cutler's yardage, accuracy, and red zone efficiency are better than any quarterback that has played for the Bears.
One can argue Josh McCown's sensational numbers in relief of Jay Cutler this year led many Bears fans to believe that Cutler should be playing at a higher level.
There is no doubt that Jay Cutler still has some room to grow as a quarterback, but a look at his stats could create an argument he was just as solid when he was healthy. I'll also say that Chicago's previous history at the quarterback position dictates that he's at least been good enough.
This means that the worst case scenario is that Jay Cutler will have a tenure similar to Jim Harbaugh or Jim Miller. These quarterbacks were guys who were pretty good, not elite, but created many fond memories for the Monsters of the Midway. They also had long careers in Chicago, and were the definite starter while they played.
If fans found a way to rally behind Rex Grossman, Craig Krenzel, Cade McNown, and Kordell Stewart, then they should be able to stand behind Jay Cutler. He has an 87.3 QBR in the fourth quarter, his connection to Brandon Marshall helped the Bears land their first top 10 receiver in decades, and he was also a Bears fan as a child and knows precisely how much the windy city wants to see a win against Green Bay.
Regardless of the outcome against the Packers on Sunday, Cutler's numbers should suggest the Bears use the franchise tag on him for a year if not sign him long term, because its rare for a team to dismiss their all time passing leader after five seasons.If neither happens then Jay Cutler should end it all with his head held high. Because if Chicago Bears as a fan base or as an organization can't love one of their own, then they do not deserve him.