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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Should Cleveland go after Cutler?

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Shelley from Washington, DC writes: Hey James, love the Blog. I'm a longtime Steeler and I've gotten a little obsessed with the ongoing Cutler-Broncos drama, but people have started suggesting that the Broncos trade Cutler to the Browns for Quinn. Now, as a Steeler fan, I think that would be the worst news for us this offseason--we already have Carson Palmer and an up-and-coming Flacco to deal with and the thought of another top-notch quarterback in the division is frightening. So my question is, is this sort of deal (Cutler for Quinn) something the Browns/Mangini would actually go for? Thanks!
 
  Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
  Could Cleveland be a possible destination for Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler?

The Cleveland Browns are extremely tight-lipped about their offseason plans. But there is enough smoke to link them as a possible destination for disgruntled Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.

Let's examine the pros and cons to making such a move.

Pros

1. The Browns have two QBs available

The Browns can offer Denver what no team interested in Cutler can: a starting-caliber quarterback. Not only that, Cleveland has two young signal-callers in Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.

2. Cleveland drafts high

Cleveland owns the fifth pick in the first round. Because a straight-up trade is not beneficial to the Broncos, draft picks are very important. Any package involving Cutler likely would include a pick or two. And compared to possible destinations such as Tampa Bay and Minnesota, Cleveland has higher picks in most rounds. The Browns also own two second-round picks -- their own and Tampa Bay's -- because of the Kellen Winslow Jr. trade. Second-rounders are extremely valuable to teams because the contracts are not as expensive as first-rounders.

3. Eric Mangini isn't tied to Quinn or Anderson

New head coach Eric Mangini is not particularly set on either quarterback, and it's evident when he says he could open a quarterback competition if both players remain on the roster. Reading between the lines, that means neither signal-caller impressed Mangini when he turned on the game tape from last season. Part of the problem with the previous regime is that the front office and ownership wanted Quinn to play, while the coaching staff tried to stay loyal to Anderson, who earned 10 wins in 2007 and went to the Pro Bowl. This created division from within. With Mangini there is a clean slate, no favorites, and the potential to move either player regardless of pedigree.

Cons

1. Denver doesn't seem interested

If Denver is unwilling to move Cutler, that would obviously be the biggest deterrent . The Broncos' front office admitted it tried to acquire Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots. But since that didn't work out, the team is willing to keep Cutler, who is highly upset about this scenario and wants out. But Cutler is under contract and wouldn't get his wish unless the Broncos choose to give into his trade demands. Players have been unhappy before and returned the following season. So this scenario wouldn't be unprecedented.

  2008: Best of Jay Cutler
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  The best moments from Jay Cutler in 2008.

2. Is Cutler interested?

It's easy for Cutler to say he wants to be traded. But when teams such as the Browns and Detroit Lions are mentioned as potential candidates, Cutler may change his tune. Cutler is on a playoff contender and in a stable organization. Does he really want to spend the next two or three years trying to rebuild a team such as the Browns or Lions instead of playing in Denver, which is on the cusp of the playoffs?

3. Would McDaniels do business with Mangini?

As much as Spygate is old news, this must be addressed. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is another prized product of the Bill Belichick tree. So is Mangini. The only difference is Mangini has been somewhat ostracized by the fraternity. Would McDaniels, the latest assistant to land a lead job thanks to Belichick's tutelage, do business to help Mangini? If there are a wealth of suitors for Cutler, don't completely rule out McDaniels returning Mangini's phone calls a little slower than the others.

Overall, the pros and cons are about even. It's appears worth it for the Browns to at least gauge the possibility of landing Cutler, who is a more proven than the QBs they currently have.