Chicago Bears sign quarterback Jay Cutler to seven-year deal

Chicago Bears sign quarterback Jay Cutler to seven-year deal
Quarterback Jay Cutler signed a seven-year contract with the Chicago Bears on Thursday. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

If the Chicago Bears make changes this off-season, it will not be at quarterback.

Chicago signed Jay Cutler to a seven-year contract Thursday, ending speculation it might make a change after five seasons of good and bad from its signal-caller. Cutler thrived under first-year Coach Marc Trestman and now has some of the best complements on offense he's had since arriving in Chicago in 2009.


"It's not always been easy," Cutler said. "There's been some ups and downs. There's been some bad years; there's been some good years. I think it makes me appreciate the moment I'm in even more, with the offensive weapons we have, with the type of leadership we have from the front office, with the type of coaching staff we have with the play calling and our [offensive] install. It makes me happy I'm here."

The Bears also signed cornerback Tim Jennings, who has led the team in interceptions in each of the last two seasons, and guard Matt Slauson to four-year deals. Like Cutler, both players were scheduled to become free agents.

Terms were not disclosed, but the deal for the 30-year-old Cutler is reportedly worth nearly $18 million per year over the first three years and includes at least $50 million guaranteed.

Henderson arrested

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson has been arrested again on suspicion of drunk driving, putting his status with the team in question after a perilous one-car crash that heavily damaged the sport utility vehicle he was driving.

Henderson was booked into jail Wednesday and released Thursday on $12,000 bail. He has a court appearance scheduled March 3 on charges of second- and third-degree driving while intoxicated and test refusal; possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; and violation of a limited driver license.

Giants' Gilbride retires

Kevin Gilbride has retired as offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

The 62-year-old Gilbride, a veteran of 39 years in coaching, said he wants to devote more time to his family.

"It's hard to say, 'It's time,"' Gilbride said. "To finally do it, it's a very unnatural feeling. I've been telling my wife [Debbie] for years I was going to do it. She moved back to Rhode Island, so I've been by myself in the hotel for three or four years. I knew this was it and I was going to do it. I finally pulled the trigger. But it's difficult."

Gilbride spent the last decade with the Giants, winning two Super Bowls, but was under pressure this season because of New York's inconsistent performance on offense.

Anti-gay allegations

Former Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe says his special-teams coordinator made anti-gay comments while Kluwe was with the Vikings, an allegation the coach "vehemently denies."

In an article posted Thursday on the website Deadspin, Kluwe wrote that Coach Mike Priefer made several anti-gay comments in objection to Kluwe's outspoken support of a gay marriage amendment in Minnesota.


Kluwe also says former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and current General Manager Rick Spielman encouraged him to tone down his rhetoric in an effort to reduce distractions to the team. At the same time, Kluwe said, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf expressed support for Kluwe's championing of gay rights.

Hours later, Priefer issued a statement disputing Kluwe's portrayal of the events.

"I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals," Priefer said. "I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member."

The Vikings said in a statement that they take the allegations "very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter."

Smith, O'Brien official

The Buccaneers say Lovie Smith is the ideal man to coach Tampa Bay. The team made it official, announcing that the onetime Tony Dungy protege who led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl seven years ago finalized a five-year contract he had reportedly agreed to Wednesday. He will be formally introduced at a news conference Monday.

And the Houston Texans officially announced that Bill O'Brien will become the third coach in Texans history, following Dom Capers, who led the team from its expansion season in 2002, and Gary Kubiak. Penn State said it is ready to move on without O'Brien and expects to hire a successor within days.