When Jay Cutler strode to the table in Halas Hall’s media briefing room on Thursday morning, he looked like a man at ease, and it’s hard to blame him, considering that he just signed a 7-year contract to stay with the Chicago Bears through the 2020 season.
Even during the regular season, Cutler repeatedly voiced optimism that he would be retained by the Bears, and he reiterated that in his press conference.
“I was quietly confident we were gonna get this thing done,” he said to the media. “I don’t feel a lot of pressure here right now. I feel at ease. I know I’m locked in here.”
Cutler, whose 63.1 completion percentage and 89.2 quarterback rating in the 2013 season were the highest he has had in his five seasons with Chicago, said that he never wanted to test the open market.
“The mindset’s right and the talent in the locker room is right,” Cutler said of the Bears’ situation. “I truly believe that we have the right group of people here to make that happen.”
He also praised his relationship with head coach Marc Trestman, saying that he was “happy to be married to him for another seven years.”
Under Trestman’s direction, Cutler was able to utilize a variety of weapons, including Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, and helped the Bears’ offense from being one of the worst in the league to one of the league’s best.
Cutler also said during his press conference that he will be travelling to Florida during the offseason to train with Marshall and Jeffery, and that Marquees Wilson and Earl Bennett will be joining them for training sessions. Much was made in 2013 about Marshall and Jeffery working together, and the on-field impact was obvious as Jeffery exploded onto the scene and forced his way into conversations about the NFL’s elite wide receivers.
“You know you don’t have to do it by yourself – you’ve got the coaching staff behind you, the general manager behind you, you’ve got the ownership behind you and you’ve got the guys around you to help you make plays,” Cutler said of getting to play with those kind of weapons.
When asked about those fans and critics who disagree with his signing, Cutler was blunt.
“Moving forward there’s definitely going to be people saying that this is the wrong move and that’s fine,” he said. “That’s their opinion. The guys in this building, the people in the building will stick together and keep moving in the direction that we think is right.”
This move is also about where Cutler is personally as much as it is professionally, and he emphasized that when he was asked about how his marriage to actress Kristin Cavillari had affected him.
“I think life experiences always help and change you, and marrying Kristin has definitely had a very good effect on my life,” he said. “Having Camden [helped] as well. I wanted to stay here—so did Kristin.”
The ultimate goal for Cutler in staying in Chicago wasn’t achieving personal wealth or just staying in a place where he felt comfortable. He also wants desperately to win in Chicago…
“To be here for possibly 12 years, 10-12 years, hopefully we can win some championships and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “If we look back 20 years from now and say, ‘Hey, I was here 12 years and we didn’t win a championship’ then we’re going to be disappointed. I’m going to be disappointed, and I think the rest of the organization is going to be disappointed.”
NBC Chicago’s Alexandria Fisher contributed to this story.