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Ryan Pace Backs Jay Cutler As Bears' Quarterback

By Chris Emma-

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) -- Following a day full of reports and rumors that the Bears were moving up to draft quarterback Marcus Mariota, first-year Chicago general manager Ryan Pace stood by Jay Cutler as the team's starter.

Pace downplayed the reports of conversations with Tennessee to move up for the second overall pick in Thursday's NFL Draft. The Bears selected receiver Kevin White out of West Virginia with the No. 7 pick.

"In my mind, we just got Jay another dynamic weapon," Pace said when asked directly about Cutler. "That's what I'm excited about. I hope right now he's fired up, because we just gave him another powerful weapon. With this receiving core, this only adds to Jay's ability to distribute the ball."

Cutler has already been guaranteed the $15.5 million due from the Bears for 2015, the second of three years guaranteed in his seven-year deal worth up to $126 million, and Pace has backed Cutler since reportedly shopping the quarterback before league's new year began and his 2015 salary was due.

The Bears have an offense built around Cutler, with new coordinator Adam Gase and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains, both of whom he greatly respects. With White, Cutler has another versatile weapon in the offense.

"I know he's a great competitor," White said when asked about Cutler. "He hates losing, just like myself."

When addressing reporters Tuesday, Cutler acknowledged the relative uncertainty of this offseason but expressed excitement for the Bears' new direction under Pace and new coach John Fox.

With Cutler returning as the Bears' starter, he knows that the stakes will be high.

"I feel that every year," Cutler said. "Every year, you've got to figure out a way to get better, you've got to figure out a way to improve."

Chicago next selects at No. 39 overall on Friday evening, as Pace will look to continue bolstering the Bears' roster. However, the general manager is moving forward with Cutler as the starter.

Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.

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