By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) The Tennessee Titans are considering cleaning house and targeting Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the offseason, according to an NFL Network report.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported on "GameDay Morning" that Cutler's first choice is to re-sign with the Bears, but "there's some serious doubts from both sides about whether that can happen." He also said "make no mistake, Cutler is definitely on the Titans' radar."
According to the report, the Titans are not expected to pick up the option on quarterback Jake Locker, which would put them in the quarterback market.
Nashville is a natural destination for Cutler because he played college football at Vanderbilt and still owns a home there, but there have been no indications that he wants to leave Chicago. Furthermore, there have been no indications that either side has doubts about a contract extension.
The Bears also have the franchise tag in their back pocket and could use it on Cutler, even though general manager Phil Emery, in a chat on ChicagoBears.com this week, pointed out the obvious negative impact it could have on the Bears' salary cap room next season.
"With the franchise tag being so high for the quarterback position, to use it and not sign the individual to a long-term deal hurts the team because you lose the ability to prorate the amount of guaranteed salary over the length of the contract," Emery said.
Many interpreted that statement as a declaration that Emery won't use the tag on Cutler, but that's not necessarily the case. It's important to remember that even if the tag is used on the quarterback, the Bears would still have until mid-July to work out a longterm agreement that would reduce the cap hit. At that point, it would be in the best interest of both parties to work out a deal, because both sides understand the importance of improving the defense in a offseason that will have a lot of turnover. There are currently 29 players on the roster with expiring contracts.
As of now, it would be an upset if Cutler wasn't in a Bears uniform next year. He'll be 31 years old next season and is comfortable in Marc Trestman's system. He's already been through four offensive coordinators in five years in Chicago and this is the most stable situation he's been in with the Bears. Finding a situation as stable, with an offensive coordinator Cutler's comfortable with, will not be easy. The Titans, for example, could be completely rebuilding and would be anything but stable.
Interestingly, in the same segment on "GameDay Morning", NFL Network's Mike Silver said Titans head coach Mike Munchak could be fired before the end of the season, because the team wants "to get in on some of these coaches like Lovie Smith."
Obviously that doesn't mean Smith will become the head coach in Titans, but it presents a perfect example of why Cutler would want to stay in Chicago. Why would he leave Marc Trestman's system to go play for Lovie Smith again?
Been there, done that. Didn't work.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.
for more features.