The Jay Cutler Trade: Only the Super Bowl Will Determine Who Won

Rick OliverCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 30:  The Vince Lombardi Trophy is seen during the NFC Head coach press conference prior to Super Bowl XLIII held at the Tampa Convention Center on January 30, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

No one likes a draw and everyone wants to know who won.


So, in examining the trade of Jay Cutler from the Broncos to the Bears we have to find a winner. Unfortunately, there isn’t one until one of these teams brings home the hardware.


After years of impatiently waiting, many Broncos’ fans finally thought they had found a quarterback who would lead them back to Super Bowl glory.


When Cutler forced the trade, many Broncos’ faithful were happy with the deal: two first round draft picks, a third, and Kyle Orton. This sounds like sufficient enough compensation, but further examination reveals another answer.


In the 2006 draft, Denver had two first round picks: their own pick and the Redskins’.


Prior to the draft Denver traded both of those picks to San Francisco to move up to the No. 13 pick. On draft day, Denver then traded a third round pick to move up and select Cutler.


In essence, when Denver received its compensation from Chicago, it was re-cooping what it originally gave up to acquire him. The return for investing three years in Cutler’s development…Kyle Orton.


Chicago fans were very excited about acquiring Cutler. The Bears have spent decades roaming the quarterback desert looking for that quality passer who has eluded them for so long.


Not so fast, Bears fans.


While Cutler is a talented player, don’t forget that the Broncos surrounded him with a lot of talent and designed an offense to highlight his skills. Not only does Chicago not have that talent, they are short on draft picks that could be used to acquire it.


You also have to account for the cultural differences on these teams.


Over the past 20 years, Denver has been primarily an offensive team. Over that same time period, Chicago has been a defensive team.


Even if Chicago had its full quota of draft picks, it would take a monumental shift in the character of the team to invest heavily into the offense.


Many will say Jay Cutler won this trade. While Cutler may go on to have a good career, it is hard to imagine he will do better in Chicago than he would have in Denver.


Had he stayed in Denver, it is not hard to imagine gaudy passing numbers, Pro-Bowls, and a future in the Hall of Fame. This is unlikely to happen in Chicago, on a defense first, run second, pass only when necessary team.


Josh McDaniels may very well have gotten his way. Maybe in his limited conversations with Cutler, he determined that Jay wasn’t the right guy for the job.


Even if McDaniels wanted Cutler gone, he has put himself in a precarious position. I can’t recall a coach that has brought on more pressure to win early than McDaniels.


Usually new head coaches are given a few seasons of “honeymoon” to retool the roster and make their own impression on the team. McDaniels ousting Cutler and the draft picks has shortened the timeline.


Given the extra picks McDaniels has at his disposal, he will be expected to accomplish in two drafts what would normally take three or four.


Looking for a winner in this trade is a tall task, and both sides may eventually claim victory.


If Cutler does well in Chicago, they will most certainly claim to be the winners. But without the ultimate prize, it will be difficult to justify the price paid to get him. Nothing short of the Super Bowl will suffice.


If Denver’s offense flourishes without Cutler, they will make the claim. Like Chicago, anything short of a championship will leave doubts as to what might have been.


This was a bold and high risk move by both franchises, but with high risk moves, the fans expect results.


Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting to watch, and it will keep analysts and fans debating for years to come.