The Jay Cutler to Cleveland rumors have (as rumors do) taken on a life of its own. The problem with this is that it will never happen. Any reasonable analysis of the first few months of the Mangini era in Cleveland will reveal that a deal for Cutler is nothing more than a pipe dream.
First, let's take a look at how these rumors came to be.
Once the Cutler/McDaniels feud reached a fever pitch and the trade talk began in earnest, reporters began to ask the questions they always do in these situations. High on the list of questions is, "Where might Cutler end up," which quickly leads to, "Who has the pieces to land him."
Very quickly, the Browns became part of the discussion since they have:
1.) a quarterback in Derek Anderson who, despite his difficulties last season, has put together a Pro Bowl season, and
2.) a quarterback in Brady Quinn who was a first-round draft choice who hasn't had enough game experience to show what he's capable of.
The earliest of these "trade speculations" involved Cleveland as part of various three-way deals involving teams such as Washington, Detroit, and the Jets. In all of these scenarios, the Broncos would have received either Anderson or Quinn (and more), and the third team would receive Cutler, with the Browns obtaining various picks and/or players.
Very quickly (and irrationally, I might add), people began just eliminating the third team altogether and suggesting that Cleveland was somehow interested in Cutler.
The only reason Cleveland became part of the discussion in the first place, is because of the perception that they have two potential starters and would presumably be willing to ship one. The idea that they would get Cutler back wouldn't solve this problem for them, in that the QB who didn't get moved in the deal would be a reluctant and disgruntled backup to Cutler.
Cleveland also seemed a possible destination because they are trying to recoup some of the picks that Phil Savage traded away. Even after the Winslow deal, the Browns only have five picks in this year's draft.
Now let's take a look at Mangini's approach to rebuilding the Browns.
First, he basically hired his own hand-picked GM in George Kokinis. Kokinis wasn't even on owner Randy Lerner's radar when Mangini suggested him for the GM job. It's unclear how the power-sharing works in the Cleveland front office since the new regime has been so secretive.
However, make no mistake, Mangini is the driving force behind the early personnel moves. Former Jets LBs David Bowens and Eric Barton, DB Hank Poteat and DL C.J. Mosley all signed with the Browns in recent weeks, and a fifth Jet, S Abram Elam, was signed to an offer sheet that the Jets matched.
In addition to the former Jets on the roster, other recent Browns signees include TE Robert Royal, S Mike Adams, OL Floyd Womack, OL John St. Clair, DB Corey Ivy, and RB Noah Herron.
Meanwhile, the team traded away one of its most talented, but troubling players in Kellen Winslow. They also released WR Joe Jurevicious and OT Kevin Shaffer after asking them to take a pay cut.
Mangini is trying to create competition for jobs on his new team. He's brought in guys he's worked with before and guys who are versatile. All of the new linemen and linebackers can play multiple positions, and most of these guys have excelled on special teams.
One thing you don't see here is a superstar; in fact, not one of these guys is guaranteed a starting job.
Keep in mind, Mangini comes from the Belichick tree.
He and McDaniels both share the philosophy that no one player is above the team. It's no secret that Mangini was not in favor of bringing in Favre, and that experience alone would sour him on the idea of bringing in Cutler—a player who has quickly become more well-known for his whining off the field than for the promise he has shown on it.
Wherever Cutler might end up, he is likely going to ask his new coach the same question he reportedly asked McDaniels in their recent face-to-face, "What guarantees can you give me that I won't be traded?" Mangini would tell him exactly what McDaniels did: that he has a responsibility to listen to any and all offers and he will make the decisions he feels are in the best interest of the team. That's precisely the approach that sent Cutler crying in Bus Cook's arms.
The reality of the situation is that Cutler would be as unhappy under Mangini as he has been (sort of) under McDaniels. On the flip side, Mangini has no interest in the ego-driven superstar type as his first personnel move (the trade of Winslow) proved.
I'm a life-long Browns fan and honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about the Mangini era coming to Cleveland. I'll root hard, but I can't say I'm crazy about all that I've seen so far. I sincerely hope he knows what he's doing.
Nonetheless, it's become rather clear that Mangini has a philosophy in terms of how he's going about rebuilding this team. For him to turn around and make a trade for Cutler would go against that philosophy.
The possibility still exists that Cleveland could be involved in a three-way deal that doesn't involve Cutler coming to Cleveland (I'd call it possible, but doubtful). What I'm saying here is that the likelihood of Jay Cutler wearing a Browns uniform next year is about the same as T.O. keeping his mouth shut next season.
In fact, if I were a betting man, I'd put my money on T.O.