Henry Melton. Jay Cutler. Robbie Gould. They're all important Bears in crucial spots that play in different phases of the game. What else do they have in common? They are all playing for a contract.
Cutler has been in Chicago for four seasons. He is on pace to be the franchise's no. 1 passer, and has been brilliant at times. He also has been erratic, clashed with teammates and coaches on the sideline, and is prone to sacks and interceptions.
Sometimes, he resembles the franchise quarterback the Bears have needed for generations. Sometimes, he's the mess the Bears want out the door. He's playing on the final year of his contract. To get the kind of money quarterbacks like Joe Flacco are getting, he has to be consistent and productive all season long, and get the Bears to the playoffs. It can't be about his potential any more. Cutler is 30, and it's time for him to produce.
Robbie Gould's consistency is exactly what the Bears have treasured for eight seasons. He knocks in 85 percent of the field goals he kicks. But the big question mark huddling over Gould is how he will recover from a hamstring injury and surgery. Austin Signor is on the roster to foster competition between the two. Gould needs to both win his starting spot and continue to knock in almost every field goal.
Melton's situation is a little different. He has been franchise tagged, and will make around $8 million this season. He is pushing for a long term deal with the Bears. While his agent negotiates, his play will need to back up the demands. Last season, he had six sacks and 43 tackles, and was a key part of the Bears defense. At 26, he has a bright future if he stays healthy. He'll need to use this season to show off his potential.
All three Bears are hoping for big paydays come next year. To get the big money, they'll need to perform this year.