Jay Cutler might be in last season with Chicago Bears

Has Jay Cutler played his last meaningful game with the Chicago Bears?

By the time Cutler returns from his torn groin muscle, it's conceivable that the Bears will have fallen out of contention for a playoff spot.

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It's been assumed that the contract-year quarterback will return to the Windy City next year via the franchise tag or a long-term contract, similar to Joe Flacco's situation last season.

Not so fast.

There is a "very real possibility" that coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery will move on from Cutler, according to NFL Media columnist Michael Silver.

Although Cutler was off to the best start of his career and had "bought in completely" to Trestman's system, he still lapsed into bad habits such as waiting too long to find his receivers and holding the ball too low as he stands in the pocket.

It's worth noting that Trestman reportedly played a key role in the decision to cancel contract talks with Cutler during the offseason.

Trestman has a well-earned reputation as one of professional football's premier offensive strategists and quarterback gurus. The Bears have a loaded receiving corps and a rebuilt offensive line, so pieces are in place to develop a first-round quarterback if Trestman elects to set Cutler free.

"Think about it -- (Trestman) had his greatest success with Rich Gannon, who was smart and moved well but wasn't anybody's idea of a big thrower," one source familiar with the Bears' situation told Silver. "If you're him, do you want to spend $20 million a year on Cutler, who might not be the best fit, or do you want to find someone you can mold who's efficient? And if you think about how deep this (next) draft class might be, he can identify his guy and get him relatively cheap for the next few years."

Under that scenario, the Bears would have to cover their bases via the franchise tag until they have acquired an alternative to Cutler.

Cutler can put all of this speculation to rest by returning with a flourish in late November and December. If that doesn't happen, though, don't be surprised if he's the headliner in an offseason blockbuster trade for the second time in his career.

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