(Reuters) - The Chicago Bears ended media speculation about their quarterback position on Thursday by announcing Jay Cutler had agreed a seven-year contract to remain with the National Football League team.
Cutler, who could have become an unrestricted free agent,
is now signed through the 2020 season.
“Very excited to have Jay for the long term,” general manager Phil Emery told a news conference.
Emery said three other players headed for free agency in March had also been signed to new deals - kicker Robbie Gould, cornerback Tim Jennings and left guard Matt Slauson.
Cutler, 30, recorded a career-high 89.2 quarterback rating in 2013, completing 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,621 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 11 games.
The strong-armed quarterback missed five games this season with a torn groin muscle and an ankle sprain, with back-up Josh McCown ably filling in as the Bears (8-8) came within a final-game loss to the Green Bay Packers of qualifying for the playoffs.
In five seasons with the Bears, Cutler has become the franchise’s all-time leader in most passing categories including completions, attempts, yards and QB rating.
His record as a starter since arriving in 2009 in a trade with the Denver Broncos is 39-28.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, editing by Tony Jimenez