Who Will Win the Jay Cutler Sweepstakes?
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Well, it's official - Jay Cutler is now on the trading block. I've blogged about this before, and I stand by my position that it's Denver who's going to be the worse for wear after this whole saga is over. Regardless of who ends up labeled the villain here, the fact is that Jay Cutler is the kind of QB you can plug into your offense and be stable for the next 10 years. Some team is about to get very very lucky.

Here's a list of suitors for Cutler's hand in holy football matrimony, with some analysis on where he might end up:

Detroit Lions

Why They Want Him: Detroit's struggles are well documented. They've been bad for quite some time now, and part of the problem has been the lack of a franchise QB to be the face of the organization. Their current options at QB are very very limited. They have Daunte Culpepper in place right now, but he's been injury-prone over the last few years, and there's no sign that he'll ever return to the player he once was. Despite Cutler's growing reputation as a prima donna, Culpepper also has some questionable attitudes of his own, partly due to his insistence on serving as his own agent. Culpepper, even if he's successful, only gives this franchise maybe 2-3 good years at the position.

Detroit has massive problems, particularly on defense, that they MUST address in the draft. In a way, landing Cutler would be a blessing. They could be free of the financial burden of the #1 draft pick, which means committing over 30 million in guaranteed dollars to a player who's never taken a snap in the NFL. Don't be fooled by the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last year - they had time to grow as players, landing in franchises stacked with a tremendous run game and hellacious defenses - most QB need years to truly blossom into the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of tomorrow. Cutler is entering his fourth year as a starting QB, and he brings with him a massive throwing arm and experience carrying the team on his shoulders. From all reports, he's an amicable teammate (flying his linemen to the Pro Bowl with him as a thank you gift, etc), and he'll be ready to step in and prove that Denver made a huge mistake dealing him.

If I'm an offensive coordinator, I'm salivating at the prospect of Jay Cutler throwing the long ball to Calvin Johnson (poised to be one of the best receivers in the league) in a nice warm dome.

Why They'll Get Him: Detroit is well positioned to make a run at Cutler. They're awash in draft picks (#1, 20, 33, 65, 174, 192, 255) and they can sacrifice any of those without hurting the rest of their draft. Given that Detroit is probably at least 2-3 years away from true success (I'm being optimistic here), Broncos' owner Pat Bowen gets the added satisfaction of making sure Cutler goes to the franchise most likely to fail this season. Cutler's agent Bus Cook also represents Calvin Johnson, so he has a relationship with the franchise already.

Why They Won't Get Him: Denver MUST replace Cutler with a QB somehow. Detroit has no QB worth trading, and while they could offer up a juicy draft pick, it's unclear whether Denver is sold on Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez. Detroit also must understand that they're not poised to make a playoff run anytime soon (despite the wretchedness of the NFC North last year), and they may decide that a franchise QB won't help a team that gave up 52 sacks last year. Detroit may be better off going with Culpepper and spending all their draft picks on building up the offensive line and defensive secondary, especially since 2010 may see hot college QBs Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and John David Booty available on the board.

New York Jets

Why They Want Him: The NY Jets are a team built to win NOW, particularly with the addition of key defensive players and the excellent Rex Ryan at the head coaching position. They only thing this team lacks is a true starting QB. It's pretty clear that Brett Ratliff and Kellen Clemens aren't going to cut the mustard for this team. While Ryan will undoubtedly be defensively-focused, when you play Tom Brady, there's a good chance that you may need your offense to put up big numbers, so having a gunslinger like Cutler at the helm would certainly help in that situation.

Why They'll Get Him: As we saw in the Brett Favre situation last year, the Jets are able and willing to make an aggressive play for a player if they really want him. And I have to believe that the Jets, more than any other team on this list, desperately desire Cutler. In the Jets' favor is the fact that Bus Cook was Favre's agent, so they're certainly used to dealing with him. If I'm Jay Cutler, this has to be one of the teams I'd most want to to go, as they are ready to win now, play in a big market, and are willing to throw whatever it takes at him to make him happy.

Why They Won't Get Him: The Jets are poor in draft picks (only have #17, 52, 76, 115, 193, and 228) and have no viable QB to trade to Denver in return. To land Cutler, they'd likely have to surrender at least two picks, which would leave them either with no picks in the first two rounds, or trading away 2010 picks as well. Also, given Baltimore's success last year, Rex Ryan may opt just to go with the "Steady, average QB" approach, and rely on the run game and defense to win games. Since they lost Lauverneus Coles in free agency, they only really have one true star WR in Jerricho Cotchery, so they might not get a lot of use out of Cutler's arm anyway. Also, it's been well documented that to survive in New York, star players must have incredibly thick skin to survive under the intense scrutiny of the fan base there, and Cutler's antics in Denver may have the Jets thinking he doesn't have the emotional fortitude to succeed there.

Cleveland Browns

Why They Want Him: Poor QB play last year helped run head coach Romeo Crennel out of town. They just acquired star WR Lauverneus Coles, and if Braylon Edwards can get his head in the game and start catching the ball, you'd have a deadly 1-2 WR tandem just waiting (correction, Coles went to the OTHER Ohio team) If Braylon Edwards can correct his dropped passes, he's a great target for the right gunslinger QB to air it out to them. They aren't sold on either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, and were planning a QB competition for the second straight year. However, the fans are definitely soured on Anderson, who was booed and heard fans cheer when he was seriously injured in a game, and it's unclear whether Quinn is ready to blossom at the position yet.

Why They'll Get Him: Of all the contenders, the Browns are the ones best poised to get Cutler, if they so desire. They have both a high draft pick (#5) plus not one, but TWO viable starting young QBs they can trade to Denver. The Mangenius (head coach Eric Mangini) certainly appreciates a gunslinger style QB, since he seemed happy with Brett Favre last year.

Why They Won't Get Him: Cleveland may decide they don't want the drama of Cutler, or they may decide that Brady Quinn is ready to take the next step in his evolution (going into his third year this season). The Browns also may decide to play Kingmaker, and be a pivot point in a three team trade that would see them trade either Anderson or Quinn to Denver, in exchange for a bushell of draft picks from another team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why They Want Him: We know that Tampa was one of the original teams in the attempted three way trade that started this whole drama-rama in the first place, so it's obvious they want Cutler badly. Reports from insiders indicate that the team owners are both very enthusiastic about signing Cutler, so the added weight of owner support make Tampa one of the most serious contenders. They have a solid run game, and just added one of the best TEs out there, Kellen Winslow, to the lineup. They also acquired RB Derrick Ward from the Giants, giving their offense extra pop. If they hadn't imploded in the final 4 games of last season, they would have made the playoffs. This is another team built to win now, if they can just answer the question at the QB position.

Why They'll Get Him: The team has proven they're willing to be aggressive in pursuing Cutler. This is a desireable franchise for Cutler to go to, so it makes sense that he might be willing to make some sacrifices to end up here. The owners may be willing to put together an impressive package to acquire him. Most of their needs are filled, so it may make sense to go for broke to fill the one massive trouble spot left on this team.

Why They Won't Get Him: Tampa doesn't have much to offer in return, honestly. They only have 1 low pick in the first 2 rounds, with little else to show (#17, 81, 120, 155, 191, 217, 229, 233). They also don't have a good QB to offer to Denver in a trade. Acquiring Cutler may be a pyrrhic victory, that may require hurting the franchise by trading away top picks in future year's drafts as well.

Other contenders:
  • San Francisco could be a likely destination, as they've already courted another big-armed QB in Kurt Warner this off-season. However, I doubt Mike Singletary, who is an old school, hard-nosed general who values keeping problems in-house, is a good personality fit for Cutler. Also, it's unclear whether SF would be able to unload Alex Smith to Denver. However, they do have an attractive collection of picks (#10, 43, 74, 111, 146, 171, 184, 219, 244) that may allow them to play the pivot point in a three team trade.
  • Carolina is another team loaded with offensive talent, ready to win now, that may enter the mix. While they may have forgiven Jake Delhomme's inexplicable implosion that ended what was an otherwise excellent season, many fans have not. Plus, Delhomme is at the end of his career, so getting Cutler now may be intriguing. Carolina could deal Julius Peppers, who's been very vocal about his unhappiness with the club and his desire to be traded, giving them youth at the QB position to go with the best WR in football in Steve Smith, and the deadly RB tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
  • Washington owner Dan Snyder is always willing to gamble draft picks and big money to acquire win-now players, and he may not be 100% sold on young Jason Campbell. Campbell has performed solidly enough to be a decent acquisition for Denver, but he isn't a good fit for the style of offense they want to run under Josh McDaniels.
  • Minnesota could use Cutler, but they just acquired Sage Rosenfels, plus they seem committed to trying out the Tavaris Jackson for at least one more season before pulling the plug completely.
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On 6:08 PM , Beers said...

Or he could go to...DA BEARS!

On 6:34 PM , OneSeason.com said...

Cutler to the DA Bears! You didn't even have them on your list!

Very surprising move.

How do you think Jay Cutler will fair in Chicago? I don't know if he can take criticism very well, may not be a good fit. Plus no WRs to throw to!

It didn't hurt his share price though, thats for sure!

On 8:30 PM , Brownie said...

We don't know if the Bears have good or bad receivers because the QB play has been inconsistent at best and horrid at worst. Frankly, WRs are a dime a dozen... beside a few premier guys... it's an easy position to address. Just look at the Patriots who Super Bowls with no name receivers. QB play will drive WR performance. The big question is... Did Chicago give up too much to get Cutler (someone who seems a little thin-skinned)? Giving up all those draft picks might make it hard to put pieces are him.

On 7:58 AM , Mad Typist said...

Normally, I'd frown more on Chicago giving up so much. On the other hand, this franchise has been so frustrating with their conservative approach to personnel that I'm actually pretty happy with the trade they made.

The jury is still out on whether the Bears have the right personnel to support Cutler, of course. Having Forte helps a lot, and the Bears have solid TEs. I'm not sold on Devin Hester as a #1 receiver, but we'll see. Part of it will be whether the offensive coordinator wants to tailor a scheme that takes advantage of Cutler's particular talents.