Fins Overlook Cutler's Sour Past While Kaepernick Can't Find Path to the Future

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterAugust 6, 2017

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

It is possible we just saw one of the smartest moves of the season in the Dolphins' decision to sign Jay Cutler to a one-year deal.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase—who, when he was the Bears offensive coordinator, guided Cutler to his best season as a professional in 2015—could replicate that in Miami. One league source told B/R on Sunday that one of the things Gase worked on was Cutler's demeanor. He told Cutler that image mattered, and that season, and basically only that season, Cutler's behavior on the sideline was much more professional.

The slumping Cutler, the man who inspired memes, was gone.

Gase could do the same in Miami. The system fits Cutler. The coach and player like each other. It could work—could.

However, it's also true that Cutler is one of the league's most legendary knuckleheads, the modern Jeff George. He was lazy, didn't study, aloof, a poor locker room guy and an overall tremendous waste of talent. Sure, maybe Gase can get something out of Cutler, and Cutler's familiarity with the system might help, but Cutler's history is riddled with the carcasses of head coaches and coordinators who thought the same.

That brings us to the other, unavoidable part of this story: Colin Kaepernick.

I've tried to not make every football conversation about Kaepernick, but damn if the NFL makes that impossible.

And now the Cutler signing, once and for all, exploded any and all myths about why Kaepernick isn't signed.

The number of excuses made by pro-NFL forces, both in the league and the media, has been extensive and ridiculous.

With Adam Gase as his offensive coordinator, Jay Cutler threw for 21 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions for the Bears in 2015.
With Adam Gase as his offensive coordinator, Jay Cutler threw for 21 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions for the Bears in 2015.Matt Marton/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

Just this week, one analyst said teams were concerned about Kaepernick's dedication, and that he might start a season and even quit.

Yet somehow that wasn't a concern that disqualified Cutler. We don't need to rehash every story about how Cutler would rankle those around him, but his aloofness in the locker room is legendary, and there's little question his attitude and inconsistency on the field caused consternation among his teammates.

In November, two Bears players told me that much of the locker room had given up on Cutler. This was denied by some players and coach John Fox after I tweeted what I was told, but in later weeks, other players told me the same.

"I'd be open, and he'd throw into double coverage," former teammate Martellus Bennett, who won a Super Bowl ring last year with the Patriots, and is now in Green Bay, told ESPN The Magazine in August.

And that is a better option than a quarterback who took his team to a Super Bowl?

Kaepernick, according to his critics, would be distracted by his off-field pursuits.

Cutler, though, didn't study.

Kaepernick supposedly wants too much money. Based on a number of conversations with people across the league and others close to Kaepernick, however, I can tell you that no team has discussed money with Kaepernick.

Cutler will get a $10 million base salary plus incentives, according to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Dolphins reportedly never contacted Colin Kaepernick about their quarterback opening, one they filled Sunday by giving Cutler a one-year, $10 million contract.
The Dolphins reportedly never contacted Colin Kaepernick about their quarterback opening, one they filled Sunday by giving Cutler a one-year, $10 million contract.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

Kaepernick made some teams nervous, I was told, because there was a higher likelihood that his running style would make him more susceptible to injury.

Cutler hasn't played a full season since 2009.

On and on it goes. There is delicious irony to people questioning Kaepernick's dedication while lauding a player in Cutler who actually retired.

SiriusXM host Craig Mish reported the Dolphins never even contacted Kaepernick. Had Cutler not signed, the team would have turned to Christian Ponder instead.

There are debates to be had, sure. Is Cutler a better fit for Gase and his system? That's entirely plausible. As he did before, Gase may be able to keep Cutler from being Cutler.

Kaepernick also once wore a shirt with Fidel Castro on it and said he supported the dictator's investment in education. Many in Miami's Cuban population would explode if the Dolphins signed him. That is not an unfair point to make.

It's just highly debatable. If the best thing that can be said about a player is that, for one year or so, a coach got him to actually do his job, well, that's not saying much. That speaks poorly of the player.

And if you need more evidence, consider that there was just one team interested in Cutler this offseason. It was the Jets.

Cutler was seen as radioactive but not radioactive enough to not get $10 million.

If Gase pulls this off, and makes the Dolphins competitive, it would be one of the more remarkable jobs in recent years.

It's possible.

But Cutler's track record says it's more likely Cutler gonna Cutler.

And Kaepernick is still out there...waiting.

     

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @mikefreemanNFL.