If the recent injury to Henry Melton has taught us anything, it's that it never hurts to start looking ahead. The Bears placed the franchise tag on Melton this offseason, and he was set on building on his big 2012 season to earn a lucrative long-term contract. Now he's on injured reserve with a torn ACL and will do exceptionally well to get anything more than a "prove it" type of deal laden with incentives instead of guarantees. But that's the way it goes for potential free agents and why it's so interesting to examine guys in contract years.
Let's take a look at some players scheduled for free agency in 2014 and how they're affecting their future bank balance, some for the better, some worse.
(The PFF grade for each player is in parentheses.)
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (+6.7)
At this stage, it's not hard to say that the best thing to happen to Cutler's agent is Chicago's hiring of Marc Trestman. Cutler has shown improvement across the board after an offseason of working with Trestman. The numbers really don't lie for our fourth-ranked quarterback on the season with his adjusted accuracy percentage shooting up from 70 percent in 2012 to 77.1 percent in 2013, while he's doing a better job managing the game. He's always going to have his flaws, but there's so much talent to work with that the Bears can't afford to let him hit the open market. especially when they might have solved their offensive line woes, which certainly factor into Cutler's performance.