Trading Cutler would be the only way to avoid owing him the majority of $15.5 million in base salary he is guaranteed for 2015. If the Bears were to cut him, an offset in his contract would reduce their liability.
There's no question Cutler will find work if he's on the street, but trading him will be difficult because of the contract, a deal that guarantees him another $10 million for 2016 if he is on a roster on March 12.
The contract and Cutler's poor performance this season, along with his track record of being a coach killer, will make trading him challenging. Where could he be dealt? Without a leader, potential landing places are listed here alphabetically.
Bucs: Forget about it. Then-Bears coach Lovie Smith lost any faith in Cutler after he showed up offensive coordinator Mike Tice on the sideline in 2012 at Dallas. The Bucs need a quarterback badly but it won't be Cutler.
Jets: Geno Smith doesn't look like he's the answer. If GM John Idzik is sent packing along with coach Rex Ryan, a new administration and coaching staff will know it has more time under owner Woody Johnson to kick-start their program. Dealing for Cutler would be a desperate move.
Raiders: Would be a total Al Davis move but they're trying to get away from the old way of doing business, right? Rookie Derek Carr has shown promise.
Rams: Coach Jeff Fisher has said positive things about Cutler since his days as the Titans coach but he has committed to Sam Bradford publicly for next season. Plus, Rams tight ends coach Rob Boras, who worked under Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner in 2009, probably would offer a scouting report that would sour Fisher on the idea.
Redskins: Coach Jay Gruden has made it clear he wants nothing to do with Robert Griffin III. Yes, the Redskins were in play when the Broncos traded Cutler but that was back when Mike Shanahan was there. It probably wouldn't stun observers in Washington but that's only because Bruce Allen is running a circus. And don't you figure Gruden would talk to brother Jon first?
Texans: Coach Bill O'Brien keeps rolling through quarterbacks in his first season but a trade for Cutler would be a stunner.
Titans: The Jake Locker experiment is over and sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger is a long way off. Cutler may have more fans in Nashville than anywhere else after playing at Vanderbilt but coach Ken Whisenhunt is already on thin ice at the end of a terrible first season. Titans scout Tim Ruskell got an up-close look at Cutler when he worked under Bears GM Jerry Angelo from 2010 to 2011.