Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler out for rest of season
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 01/12/16 9:41pm
Quarterback Jay Cutler could have played his last snap for the Chicago Bears after learning he needs season-ending shoulder surgery.
Cutler made five starts for the Bears this season, throwing only four touchdown passes and five interceptions, and missed five games with a thumb injury before suffering a shoulder issue after his return.
He had hoped to play again this season with rest and rehabilitation, but Bears coach John Fox announced on Thursday that the 33-year-old would need surgery.
Matt Barkley took his place for the week 12 defeat against the Tennessee Titans and, with Brian Hoyer also on injured reserve, looks like keeping the spot for their last five games.
Cutler has been with the Bears for the last eight seasons and holds a number of franchise records, but they have only been to the play-offs once since his arrival, and that was all the way back in 2010.
The Bears have endured losing seasons for the last two years and are guaranteed to make it an unwanted hat-trick in 2016 as they sit among the worst teams in the NFL with a 2-9 record.
Cutler's future with the franchise is up in the air, with Fox saying only: "The offseason's the offseason. We're not there yet."
He is under contract until the end of 2020 but the Bears could release him at the end of any of the remaining seasons on his deal for a minimal salary cap hit, freeing up more than $10m in salary should they decide to cut him this offseason.
The Bears are also likely to have a very early draft pick in the 2017 Draft and a number of quarterbacks are expected to go quickly including DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame, North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson from Clemson.