After a battery of tests and multiple medical opinions, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is dealing with a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, according to several sources informed of his condition.
In addition to the injury, he's also dealing with significant wear-and-tear on this right shoulder from years of bumps, bruises and countless throws. The result is painful tendonitis that threatens to end his season.
A week after the initial injury, Cutler is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Titans. He won't play and Matt Barkley will start. There is not a lot of optimism Cutler will return to the field this season, though the team considers him one of their toughest players so they haven't ruled out that prospect. They want to give him every opportunity to return, which would also mean they wouldn't have to start Barkley through the balance of the season.
It's unclear if Cutler will need shoulder surgery. If he does, his situation becomes more complicated. With no guaranteed money left on his seven-year, $126-million contract, the Bears could release him.
The other part of the story surrounds Cutler's contract for next year. His base salary for 2017 is just $12.5 million, plus another $2.5 million in roster bonuses. That's not crushing for a starting QB.
Although the Bears tried to trade him a few years back -- and coach John Fox clearly is not his biggest fan -- there's no guarantee they'll improve at the position next year. The draft is considered a very weak one at the quarterback position. Brian Hoyer has impressed as his backup and would've kept the starting job had he not suffered a broken forearm. But his contract is up after this season, and he could be lured away.
Plus, what if Fox is fired after the season? Could a new coach embrace Cutler?
Cutler might be released after the season. But given so much uncertainty at the position and the options available, it's far from a sure thing that he's gone in Chicago.
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