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Friday, March 20, 2009
The rarity of the Cutler saga

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

 
  Byron Hetzler/US Presswire
  Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler has formally asked Denver to trade him.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

A large part of the intrigue of the Jay Cutler fiasco is that it is so rare.

Sudden divorces between young, standout quarterbacks and their teams seldom occur. When teams get ahold of young, talented quarterbacks, they usually try to hang onto them. Every team's goal is to get a franchise quarterback.

The Denver Broncos, who drafted Cutler with the No. 11 pick in 2006, clearly thought he was that player to lead them for the next decade-plus. Now, thanks to the mess that began with Denver considering trading him three weeks ago, which resulted in Cutler publicly asking for a trade, that plan is in jeopardy.

What seemed inconceivable three weeks ago could now happen. A 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback who isn't in his prime yet (he has started only 37 NFL games) could be traded. It just doesn't happen much.

Here is a look, going back 15 years, at some of the QBs who were traded in the middle of their careers and how it worked out for them and their new teams.

We will start with Jeff George, who is the most comparable to Cutler because of age.

 George

Jeff George

 Johnson

Brad Johnson

 Mirer

Rick Mirer

 Green

Trent Green

 Schaub

Matt Schaub

If you want to go further back, you can look at Brett Favre and Steve Young being traded, but again they don't compare to George and Cutler.

  2008: Best of Jay Cutler
  NFL.com Video
  Highlights of the best moments from Jay Cutler in 2008.

Favre had almost no game experience when he was dealt from Atlanta to Green Bay in 1992. Young, who was 25 when he was traded from Tampa Bay to San Francisco in 1987, was a backup for several years after he was dealt. And, of course, there is Matt Cassel, who played a central role in the Cutler fiasco. He was traded to Kansas City along with linebacker Mike Vrabel from New England for a second-round pick after one effective season with the Patriots. But we have no idea how that will play out.

Quarterback trades are not completely foreign, but their success rates vary and the reasons usually have to do with age and skill level.

Cutler is young and has shown he can play at a high level. Thus, as you can see, there are few trades involving quarterbacks that compare directly to Cutler. That's why this situation is so rare.