The Jay Cutler Situation and the Detroit Lions

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The Jay Cutler Situation and the Detroit Lions
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos attempted to trade Jay Cutler, their 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback, in a three-way deal which involved quaterback Matt Cassell. The other teams involved were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots.

The Broncos told Cutler they did not initiate the trade talks, yet what NFL team would think a young stud quarterback like Cutler would be available? It just doesn’t add up.

Cutler has just reasons for requesting a trade though he has not yet been placed on the market.  The determination of whether or not this relationship can be salvaged could depend on the next meeting with Denver officials. 

Cutler is making less than his current backup Chris Simms and wouldn't play in Denver knowing his employers are not entirely happy with him and attempted to get rid of him.  This is not your typical work conditions and would frustrate any of us. 

Many in the media believe Cutler needs to get back to work and forget about the trade rumors.  It seems that in the NFL, players are at fault for requesting a trade or asking for a release. 

Yet teams are allowed to trade players or sign them to large contracts, only to cut them at any point they deem necessary. 

This year Tampa Bay released veteran linebacker and future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who was in the last year of his contract and planned on retiring after the 2009 season.  Brooks spent his whole career in Tampa and no uproar was heard, because the “NFL is a business.”

If Cutler is put on the market, there will be a long line of possible suitors.  NFL.com has reported that more than 10 teams have made initial inquires about the young quarterback, the Detroit Lions being one of them.

Other teams that may get involved are the Browns, Jets, and Redskins.  Denver would need a quarterback replacement and the Browns are the only team with two legitimate starting quarterbacks in Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson; they also have an extra second round pick. 

If the Broncos do not get an adequate return for Cutler or the Browns don’t get involved, it could force Denver to negotiate on Detroit’s terms. 

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has proved during his short tenure with the team to be a shrewd negotiator.  The Lions do not seem interested in a bidding war for Cutler, with many holes on the team still to fill.

Mayhew hasn’t overpaid for free agents after a dreaded 0-16 season, no player has reached a total of $10 million in their contracts and Mayhew has managed to make a few good trades.

He brought Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson to Detroit for Corey Redding, the underweight, overpaid defensive tackle, and a 2009 fifth round pick.  The Cowboys know all too well how Mayhew negotiates. 

Dallas traded three draft picks for receiver Roy Williams, when there wasn’t a market demanding that much compensation.  The Cowboys also received Jon Kitna in a second trade for starting cornerback Anthony Henry days before Kitna would have been released.

Denver may wait until draft day to decide whether or not to deal Jay Cutler and if no team steps up to their demands, the Broncos may decide to send Cutler to Detroit for the No. 1 pick, ensuring they have a quarterback of the future. 

One question many Lions fans have is would Jay Cutler be happy in Detroit? The answer is yes—if he is given a new contract increasing his salary from around $2 million the next few seasons, he will have a $12 million bonus in his future. 

Would Cutler want to stay with a team like the Lions who have a habit of losing?  Again, the answer is yes, as long as he is not blatantly lied to again.  He played at Vanderbilt, a school not known for their football team and his career record was 11-35.

A possible Lions-Broncos trade involving Cutler would depend on what Detroit would have to give up. A few weeks ago the price seemed to be a second round pick, but now with Cutler’s availability in the spotlight, the price has gone up, especially with possibly more than 10 teams interested.

If Cutler were traded to the Lions, without the No. 1 pick being involved, they would surely draft a left tackle to protect him. Whether it would be Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe, it would leave the defense to suffer for another year. 

The most the Lions should offer is the No. 1 overall draft pick for Cutler and maybe a lower third rounder or another pick later in the draft, nothing more.

The Lions have too many holes to fill to trade away multiple draft picks, especially high picks.  If other teams get involved, he won’t be donning a Lions uniform next season.

While potential No. 1 pick Matt Stafford is not proven, drafting him would fill a need and allow the Lions to keep other high draft picks to improve the defense. 

Of course if Cutler is available for the right price, by all means trade for him. But please don’t mortgage the Lions future in doing so.

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