Before I get into how much I think Cutler can get on a new contract, let me say that for the sake of all future young Head Coaches and young Salary Cap guys-turned-GM, I hope this gamble pays off for Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders. Like I said, it's rare for a young franchise QB to get dealt, particularly when everyone is trying to find their franchise QB, so I hope this pays off for the young duo in Denver; otherwise, they'll be the poster children for why not to hire young, in-over-their-head coaches & GMs.
Moving along to Cutler, the young QBs who have gotten contract extensions in recent years include, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, David Garrard, Carson Palmer, & Drew Brees. Their contracts had the following characteristics:
Player Guarantee 3 Year Total Guar/3 Year
Roethlisberger $33,200,000 $43,500,000 76.32%
Palmer $24,000,000 $41,750,000 57.49%
Romo $29,294,118 $31,000,000 94.50%
Brees $20,000,000 $30,000,000 66.67%
Rodgers $20,000,000 $28,000,000 71.43%
Garrard $18,000,000 $25,500,000 70.59%
The "3 year total" is the amount of money the player would cost the team if they were to cut him after 3 years. This is a common barometer used by agents and clubs to value contracts. The "guar/3 year" tells you what percentage of the 3 year total is made up of guaranteed money; this indicates the level of commitment on the part of the team. Meaning the more guaranteed, the higher the level of committment and risk for that matter on the part of the club.
Cutler has 37 starts under his belt; here's how this group compare to one another over the first 37 starts of their career:
Player W-L Comp% Pass Yrds Pass TDs INTs Rating
Cutler 17-20 62.5 9024 54 37 87.1
Roethlis. 27-10 62.8 7782 47 38 88.9
Romo 27-10 64.4 9865 76 40 97.3
Palmer 21-16 63.9 8611 62 36 90.0
Brees 17-20 60.7 7472 47 34 80.9
The stats above show that if you're a winner, meaning you've shown a ability to lead your team to victory, whether it's by throwing for 250+ yards & 2 TDs per game as Romo did, or only throwing for limited yards & TDs as Roethlisberger did, teams will pay a premium for you. So it isn't coincidental that Romo, Roethlisberger & Palmer, whose combined win-loss records after 37 starts were a combined 75-36, are the highest paid QBs of this group from a 3 year & guaranteed perspective. Comparatively, Cutler is 17-20 over his first 37 starts, so he can't be considered an elite QB yet, as he has yet to prove himself to be a winner in this league.
One could make the argument that Drew Brees' departure from San Diego is decently similar to Cutler's departure from Denver. Granted, one left via free agency and the other left via trade, but similarly, they both were the same young age when they transitioned teams (Brees 27 & Cutler 26). When Brees left San Diego, there were questions as to whether or not he was a legitimate franchise QB, Cutler faces this same question. In the case of Brees, he's been outstanding in New Orleans; nearly breaking Marino's single season passing yardage record in 2008 and entrenching himself as the leader of that club and a leader in the community. Needless to say, Chicago hopes Cutler develops in the same manner as Brees.
The stats below show Brees' final season in SD versus Cutler's final season in DEN:
Player W-L Comp% Pass Yrds TDs INTs Rating
Cutler 8-8 62.3 4526 25 18 86.0
Brees 9-7 64.6 3576 24 15 89.2
All of that said, it's my opinion that Cutler can expect an guar/3 year percentage somewhere between 60% - 72%, where Brees serves as the example of the low end and Rodgers (a QB with less of a proven track record than Cutler prior to signing his deal, but who had a better statistical 2008 than Cutler) serves as the example of the high end. In terms of guaranteed money, I would expect Cutler to get anywhere between $20M - $25M; while getting anywhere between $30M - $35M over 3 years.
As I said in a previous entry, you can't deny the importance to Bus Cook, Cutler's agent, to get Cutler a new deal as a means for Cook to make up for the loss of income from the retirement of Brett Favre. It'll be interesting to see what type of deal Cook ends up negotiating for Cutler. We shall see.....