Chicago Bears coach John Fox answers a question after a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Chicago Bears coach John Fox laughs as he answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
INDIANAPOLIS — Both the coach and general manager of the Chicago Bears were given ample opportunity Wednesday to endorse Jay Cutler as their quarterback for 2015 and beyond.
Time and again, they declined.
"We're going to ask this about eight different ways?" coach John Fox said after one of the attempts Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. "I don't think there's any question that there's ability and talent there. But there's a lot more that goes into it, and we're evaluating that as we speak."
The Bears signed Cutler to a seven-year contract worth $54 million guaranteed last offseason, with the thought that he'd lead them into the next decade. But 2014 was a debacle in Chicago. The Bears finished 5-11, coach Marc Trestman got fired and Cutler tied for the league lead in interceptions (18) and was in the middle of controversy all season.
Fox said he met with Cutler when he was hired in Chicago last month, but when pressed, the coach offered up nothing about what he took out of that meeting.
"I'm just getting to know him," Fox said. "Everyone's got perceptions. This is a relationship business and that takes time. I don't want to stand up here and give you a final evaluation when maybe I'm a fourth through the test."
The Bears brought in free agent Josh McCown for a workout and Fox said "there's obviously interest or we probably wouldn't have met with him."
Cutler is 44-38 as the Bears starter, and has led the Bears within a game of the Super Bowl only once, in 2010. That season, he hurt his knee in the NFC title game. Cutler has never had a passer rating over 90.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace was every bit as noncommittal as his coach when asked about having Cutler back this season. Cutting him would count as much as $15.5 million against the Bears salary cap, though there are ways to recoup some of that loss.
"We're still evaluating all of that, obviously, going through this whole thing," Pace said. "I don't want to rush any decisions. I want to max out the time that we have and just be thorough with every one of these."
Pace said the Bears are evaluating the tape on Cutler.
"But there's things we want to know more about the player," Pace said, "and that goes for all our players."
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