NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Cutler has been benched for Jimmy Clausen, according to two sources informed of the situation. Coach Marc Tresman confirmed the news Thursday.
Cutler leads all quarterbacks with 24 turnovers this season, and has run through four different offensive coordinators since arriving in Chicago in 2009. Rapoport reported that the Bearswere having "buyer's remorse" after giving Cutler a seven-year contract in January, and that his game-management skills were in question. Cutler has struggled to change plays at the line of scrimmage, especially in the running game.
The move to Clausen, 27, calls into serious question whether Cutler will be the team's starting quarterback next season. Rapoport reports the Bears were already considering moving on from Cutler this offseason considering his salary and performance. They will ramp up those efforts now.
The Bears owe Cutler $15.5 million fully guaranteed next season, which will make him very tricky to trade. But it's not impossible. There are a lot of QB-needy teams and it's possible the Bears will eat some of Cutler's salary. We doubt the Bears could get much in return for Cutler; getting rid of him would essentially be a salary dump.
Rapoport suggested on NFL Total Access that coach Marc Trestman could wind up outlasting Cutler in Chicago. Benching a "franchise quarterback" for Clausen, a limited player that hasn't started since 2010, sends a strong message. NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported that some in the Bears building believe Clausen will "light it up" by running Trestman's offense, but that's easier said than done. The Bears face the No. 1 defense in the league this week: the Detroit Lions.
It's hard to project too far into the future with these Bears. The status of Trestman and general manager Phil Emery aren't necessarily set in stone. Perhaps the only way Cutler could stay in Chicago is if an entirely new regime is in place.