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Originally published January 2, 2014 at 7:49 PM | Page modified January 2, 2014 at 11:14 PM

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Bears keeping Jay Cutler as QB, agreeing on 7-year contract

Chicago signed Jay Cutler to a seven-year contract Thursday, ending speculation they might make a change after five seasons of good and bad from their talented signal caller.

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Should have why with orton and built talent around him. Would have saved a ton MORE


LAKE FOREST, Ill. — If the Bears make changes this offseason, it will not be at quarterback.

Chicago signed Jay Cutler to a $126 million, seven-year contract Thursday, ending speculation they might make a change after five seasons of good and bad from their talented signal caller. Cutler clearly 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 past two seasons, and guard Matt Slauson to four-year deals. Like Cutler, both players were scheduled to become free agents.

General manager Phil Emery said the team and Cutler’s agent, Bus Cook, completed contract discussions three days after the season ended Sunday with a 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers in a game that decided the NFC North title.

Terms were not disclosed, but the deal for Cutler, 30, is reportedly worth $126 million, with $54 million guaranteed. Its $18 million average per season equals the Cowboys’ Tony Romo for sixth among quarterbacks.

Cutler produced his career-best passer rating of 89.2 in 2013, though he played in just 11 games due to ankle and groin injuries. He completed 224 of 355 passes for 2,621 yards and 19 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.


• Former Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe said his special-teams coordinator made anti-gay comments while Kluwe was with the Vikings, an allegation the coach “vehemently denies.” In an article posted on the website Deadspin, Kluwe wrote that coach Mike Priefer made several anti-gay comments in objection to Kluwe’s championing of gay rights.

• Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson has been arrested again for drunken 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.

Kevin Gilbride retired as offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Gilbride, 62, a veteran of 39 years in coaching, said he wants to devote more time to his family. Gilbride spent the past decade with the Giants, winning two Super Bowls, but was under pressure this season for New York’s inconsistent performance on offense.

Brandon Jacobs, who became one of the New York Giants’ most charismatic running backs, announced his retirement on his Twitter account.

Bill O’Brien departed Penn State to take over as coach of the Houston Texans. O’Brien left the Nittany Lions less than two years after replacing Joe Paterno.

• The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it official, announcing that Lovie Smith, a one-time Tony Dungy protégé who led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl seven years ago, finalized a five-year contract with the team.

Robert Mathis, the Indianapolis Colts’ Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion, was honored as the inaugural winner of the Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader.

• The audiences for the NFL on Sunday afternoons grew even bigger this season. The NFC package on Fox matched its highest rating (12.5) in the network’s 20 seasons broadcasting the league, and the AFC package had its best rating (11.1) since 1994.

• Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams settled a lawsuit he filed against his former fiancée in an attempt to get back a $785,000 diamond engagement ring.

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