Contract Forecast: Jay Cutler

Contract Forecast: Jay Cutler
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Contract Forecast: Jay Cutler

With a hot start to the 2013 season the Chicago Bears have been one of the teams to watch thus far, and with more weapons than he's had in recent years, Jay Cutler remains the focal point. Cutler's 5 year $50 million deal is set to expire after 2013, making him easily one of the top possible free agents this offseason.

We'll assess Cutler's statistical performance in 2011-12 and compare them to quarterbacks of similar age and production to determine a forecast a possible extension for Cutler.

Comparable Quarterbacks
To generate a prediction the Spotrac team determined that the following quarterbacks were viable targets to use in comparing with Cutler. The key was to locate players with similar numbers, who signed a contract around the current age of Cutler. Here's a look at the contracts signed by each. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Mark Sanchez 5 $58,250,000 $11,650,000 25
Alex Smith 3 $24,000,000 $8,000,000 28
Matt Schaub 5 $66,150,000 $13,230,000 30
Averages 4.33 $49,466,667 $11,415,385 28
Cutler is 30 years old, a notable age for a veteran quarterback with some question marks about his career still. We'll adjust the above contracts down to reflect each as if it were signed at the age of 30 to provide a better scope for our base prediction.

View the list of Top Average Paid Quarterbacks in the NFL
Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
4 $44,728,512 $11,182,128
Statistical Analyzations
Now let's analyze these players statistically over their careers by showing the averages for Games/Season, Passing Yards/Season, Passing TD/Season, Completion %/Season, and Interceptions.

Then, to assess how well the player was performing prior to signing their respective contract, we'll show the averages of these statistics two years prior to their signing date. This will give us a "Prime Percentage" for each player, providing us with a snapshot for how well that player was performing when the contract was signed in relation to his overall career.
Player Games Yards Comp% TD INT
Mark Sanchez (2010-11, NYJ) 16 211.41 55.8 21.6 15.5
Matt Schaub (2010-11, HOU) 13 263.38 62.3 19.5 9
Alex Smith (2010-11, SF) 13.5 204.4 65.75 15.5 7.5
Averages 14.16 226.41 61.28 18.8 10.6
Jay Cutler (2011-12 CHI) 12.5 214.08 58.5 16 10.6
% Difference -13% -6% 9% -18% 0%
OVERALL PRIME % -28%
No matter how you slice it, Cutler just doesn't add up in terms of major quarterback statistics on paper. Even when placing him with Tier 2 (or 3) variable quarterbacks as we've done here, Cutler's prime percentages are in the negatives in almost all cases. We'll assess a 28% decrease to our original forecast.
Results

Length of the Contract
In terms of length it makes sense to keep Cutler in the 3-4 year range, similar to that of Alex Smith's deal in KC. We'll round up to 4 in this case.


Value of the Contract
As a 30 year old quarterback with stats that don't jump off the page, Cutler will need to win - and win big in 2013 to really place himself with a great amount of leverage in terms of this extension. Our base/unadjusted contract ($11.1M per year) is probably fairly close to where many saw him headed this offseason (slightly higher than his current contract). But the stats don't nearly hold up to that merit. His 2013 appear to be headed towards better lines - and more importantly the wins have come with them. We'll keep true to our formula and offer the following prediction:

Spotrac's Prediction: 4 years, $32,204,529
Average annual salary $8,051,132

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