The Chicago Bears left no doubt about their confidence in Jay Cutler.
Cutler, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, signed a seven-year contract with the team, general manager Phil Emery announced Thursday.
Although financial terms were not released, Cutler's deal is expected to eclipse the $17.6 million average the Detroit Lions gave Matthew Stafford in July. It also includes at least $50 million in guaranteed money, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Cutler isn't worried about his critics panning the deal.
"Anything that would have happened, [anywhere] I would've went, there's always positives and negatives," Cutler said. "There's always critics. Coming off an 8-8 season, we're not happy with how it ended. But I think everyone in this building is really excited about the direction we're going.
"Moving forward, there's definitely gonna be people saying that this was the wrong move. That's fine. That's their opinion. The people in this building will stick together, and we'll keep going in the direction that we think is right."
In explaining the thought process behind locking up Cutler for the long term, Emery discussed the quarterback's growth in 2013, a season the general manager described as his best.
"He's a demonstrated winner with the Chicago Bears," Emery said. "He can be a key player in terms of being the reason you win."