MURKY FUTURE: A once redemptive season has turned regressive. With even the playoffs now uncertain, we can’t help but turn our attention to 2013 and the status of the contracts of Lovie Smith and Jay Cutler, who both have one year remaining on their contracts. Cutler would seem to have more leverage than Smith at the moment, and he has discussed publicly both a hometown discount, as well as what a shaky offensive line (ESPN Chicago) means to his longevity in Chicago. GM Phil Emery was told he had to keep Smith for 2012, but Smith is fair game once this season ends (ESPN Chicago). Former Bears QB Jim Miller insists this is no time for contract talk (CSN Chicago), and David Haugh in the Trib is quick to remind us that there are lots of Bears auditioning for jobs, from Devin Hester to Julius Peppers. None of this as much fun as planning a trip to New Orleans. In other news…
— ESPN Chicago: Cubs exploring ticket market options (may end relationship with StubHub)
— SB Nation Chicago: Chicago Bulls Lineup Pyramids: Tom Thibodeau’s best and worst combinations
— FOX Sports: Rangers See Drastic Identity Shift (now interested in A.J. PIerzynski)
— The New York Times: Concussion Liability Issues Could Stretch Beyond N.F.L.