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Jay Cutler could be franchise tagged, Bears GM says

The franchise tag remains in play for Jay Cutler.

Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery clarified comments he made earlier this month during a fan Q&A about the franchise tag not being the ideal way to keep his starting quarterback.

"I didn't say that I would rule it out," Emery said Friday on WMVP-AM's "Waddle and Silvy Show," per ESPN.com. "I said it's not the first thing we would think about in signing players that we like. If you put a franchise tag on a player, that's a player that you like. We like Jay. If you like a player, you want to move forward in a multi-contract year basis, not a short term."

NFL Media's Albert Breer projected the 2014 franchise tag for quarterbacks to be at $16.2 million. Cutler currently earns a little more than half that amount, $8.97 million, in the final year of his contract.

This is one situation where all involved have said the right things.

Cutler has repeatedly said he wants to remain in Chicago and even said he would be fine with the initial franchise tag.

Coach Marc Trestman has shown the utmost faith in Cutler. The biggest backing came in Week 15, when Trestman started him in place of a hot Josh McCown, who had filled in until Cutler was medically cleared from an ankle injury that kept him out four weeks.

On Friday, Emery again discussed how much he values Cutler as a top-flight quarterback.

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"I've said it before: I'm convinced that Jay is a franchise quarterback," Emery said. "The rest of that as far as where we are going in the future, we'll work out that in the offseason. Certainly I'm pleased with Jay."

Cutler was playing at his highest level before a string of injures curtailed his progress. McCown's success has brought into question Cutler's value to an organization in need of an overhaul on defense.

Emery ultimately will have to answer whether he believes Cutler is worth tens of millions of dollars more than a player like McCown -- given the success the latter had in Trestman's offense.

We previewed every Week 16 game in the latest "Around The League Podcast."

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