The Jay Cutler Drama: Share the Blame and Move On
When the phone rang in Josh McDaniels' office on Saturday morning, he was not expecting to talk quarterbacks. Defensive lineman, running backs, cornerbacks, yes; but not quarterbacks.
Cutler is in the process of becoming the face of the Denver offense. He is the most promising quarterback that Denver has seen since the departure of John Elway.
So why, then, would any other GM even dream that he would be on the trading block?
My friend and fellow Broncos writer Sayre Bedinger said it best: "It is unbelievable to me that the Broncos were even approached about this trade...Nobody calls the Colts asking about the availability of Peyton Manning...Nobody is trying to take Eli Manning off the Giants’ hands. This is NOT Madden ‘09."
We can say what we want about the absurdity of the offer in the first place, but we can't take back the fact that two teams, the Lions and the Buccaneers, apparently made those calls, and asked those questions.
First, let's understand the proposed deal. The Lions/Bucs were prepared to trade their first round picks, respectively, to the New England Patriots for quarterback Matt Cassel. Detroit or Tampa would then have sent Cassel to the Denver Broncos, in exchange for Cutler.
New England would have ended up with a first round pick, Denver with Cassel, and Tampa or the Lions with Cutler.
Now, realistically, why would McDaniels even consider that?
A franchise, pro-bowl quarterback who is a fixture in, and leader of the NFL's second best offense for a career backup who had one good season playing with an all-pro offensive supporting cast?
Once again, this is McDaniels, the former Patriots offensive coordinator.
We know that he's interested in bringing some of his former players to Denver with him. He's already brought in Lonie Paxton and Jabar Gaffney.
McDaniels has repeated many times that he was evaluating the entire roster, but nobody thought that Cutler's job was in jeopardy.
On the NFL Network's Total Access, the analysts dedicated a segment to the situation. Adam Schefter made the point that McDaniels may be trying to prove a point.
He might be setting the precedent that "anything goes" and that nobody is guaranteed a spot in the starting lineup.
That being said, McDaniels was not brought in to make blockbuster deals to change the look of the offense. Cutler is the quarterback in Denver, and McDaniels is going to have to work with him.
So, McDaniels deserves some of the blame for this incident.
He was so enthusiastic about calling each and every player when he was first brought to Denver, so why didn't he place a personal call to Cutler's cell phone and tell him that his job was safe and that he was not going to be traded?
Sometimes, a public statement is not the best way to handle things.
On the other side of it though, Cutler has been quite vocal during his career, and not always in a positive way about matters such as this.
I am the first one who will admit that I have defended Cutler. I've bashed Philip Rivers on his behalf, and I've tried to see things from his perspective whenever possible.
The truth is, many Broncos fans are tired of hearing the 25-year old blast the decisions of his elders.
“My understanding at this point is they’re trying to trade me,” Cutler said. “We’ll see where I end up at. I liked it here, I liked playing with these guys, but obviously they’re not going to let me have that opportunity.”
He went on to say, "I’ve heard I’m still on the trading block."
Let's be clear on that before moving on, Cutler is not on the "trading block" and never was. Two teams placed phone calls to the Broncos asking about him. McDaniels briefly pondered the idea of working with Cassel again, but then said no.
Furthermore, Cutler's agent, James "Bus" Cook was quoted in saying, “They never definitely told me one way or the other whether Cutler would be traded or not. Nobody has talked to me, and no other teams have talked to me.”
So where's the problem?
The way I see it, Cutler was never "shopped," he was never on the "trading block," and he was never going to be traded. There was an inquiry made about him—that's all.
Could McDaniels have handled the situation more effectively? Yes.
But it's a learning experience for him as well, remember he is only 32-years-old.
Obviously, the head coach needs to respect the players and earn their respect, but he does not need to "cater" to their specific personal preferences. Cutler needs to understand this. He's not always going to be idolized and protected.
In fact, McDaniels has done an excellent job thus far with this team. He has shown dedication and he placed personal calls to every player on the roster. Most members of the team have nothing but positive things to say about their new coach.
Instead of complaining to every major news venue in Denver, and saying passive- aggressive things such as, "I liked playing with these guys, but obviously they’re not going to let me have that opportunity,” Cutler should have kept quiet until he knew the full extent of the rumor, and learned that it was ultimately false.
Still, Cutler maintains that "anything can be mended," and the relationship between the young coach and the young quarterback should be fine. Cutler has always been a bit immature, and that is a learning process on his end.
Of course, "learning process" means that eventually he will learn to let rumors blow over without making a big deal out of them.
And what's more, this little drama has soured the weekend that began with important deals that brought in many players that the Broncos desperately needed, and all at good prices.
In fact, the NFL Total Access team dedicated another segment to the Broncos and explained why they and the Washington Redskins are the winners so far in free agency.
McDaniels is bringing the famous "Patriot Way" to Denver. Signing specific players to reasonable deals beats out bringing in the big name free agent, aka Albert Haynesworth.
So, as a fan of the Denver Broncos and of Cutler the quarterback, I strongly hope that Cutler and McDaniels are able to laugh about this little incident over lunch in Denver at some point during the summer.
Maybe something along the lines of "Did you really think I would trade you away?" to which Cutler would chuckle and say, "Nah, but I was scared for a while there...I thought I might have to go play for the Lions or something."
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