Race for Cutler Is Underway
Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen announced Tuesday that the club will seek to trade disgruntled quarterback Jay Cutler, who's been at odds with the team and rookie coach Josh McDaniels.
The Broncos could face one complicating factor as they attempt to deal Cutler. The New England Patriots, remember, got only a second-round draft choice when they traded quarterback Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this offseason. The Broncos undoubtedly will be seeking more, perhaps far more, than a second-round pick for Cutler. Will that create any problems? Perhaps.
Still, there probably will be no shortage of teams in pursuit. Here's a quick look at some teams that could be in the running:
Lions: Detroit has the first and 20th overall selections in the draft, and the Lions simply must emerge from this offseason with a future franchise quarterback as they rebuild from the first 0-16 season in league history. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford is in the mix for the top overall pick and is said to have had an impressive personal workout for the Lions on Tuesday. The Lions' new brain trust might have to choose between Cutler and Stafford. The decision could determine whether this group of decision-makers goes the way of Matt Millen or actually restores the franchise's respectability.
Jets: Cutler is represented by agent Bus Cook. So was Brett Favre, who landed with the Jets after the melodrama of last offseason produced his split with the Green Bay Packers. Of course, the Jets weren't Favre's preferred landing spot, and things didn't exactly go smoothly for Favre in New York before he retired for a second time. But the Jets certainly need a quarterback and maybe Cook will get another client to the big New York stage.
Buccaneers: The Bucs, like the Lions, were involved in trade talks regarding Cassel and Cutler that created the Broncos' problem with Cutler in the first place. Neither of those proposed three-team deals materialized, but the Buccaneers still have to be considered a top Cutler contender.
Bears: Do the Bears really believe that Kyle Orton is the answer? If they do, they might be fooling themselves.
Vikings: Minnesota already has traded for Sage Rosenfels this offseason to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. But should either of them be quarterbacking a team that is, in most other areas, championship-ready? Without Cutler, the Vikings are a Super Bowl contender in the NFC. With him, they perhaps would have to be considered the conference's Super Bowl favorite.
Browns:.Eric Mangini was the Jets' coach last offseason when that team traded for Favre. Now he's in Cleveland, and what the Browns have going for them is that they could send either Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn to Denver in return.
Redskins: Coach Jim Zorn said at the annual league meeting last week that the Redskins weren't among the teams pursuing a trade for Cutler. But that hasn't stopped the speculation linking the club to Cutler. Zorn also said that any NFL coach would have to contemplate the possibilities if the Broncos called and offered Cutler in a trade. One problem for the Redskins is that their options are limited because of a lack of draft picks. And it isn't like Jason Campbell played poorly in his first year with Zorn. It says here that the Redskins trading for Cutler is a long shot, but they're included on the list because so many others are convinced they'll be a factor in this.
Niners: The 49ers reworked Alex Smith's contract to keep him and have him compete with Shaun Hill for the starting job. But getting Cutler would be a significant upgrade.
Jaguars: It's been an offseason of significant changes in Jacksonville. Could another be on the way?
Panthers: There has been talk of the Panthers negotiating a contract extension with quarterback Jake Delhomme. But he's coming off a five-interception performance in a season-ending playoff loss to the Cardinals. That's the sort of game that can change the way an organization feels about a quarterback, although Panthers officials have maintained so far that their decision about Delhomme's future in Carolina shouldn't be based merely on that performance.
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