AFC West: Cutler rift

ESPN's Mike Golic and Tim Hasselbeck discuss Jay Cutler's future in Denver.

ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike tackled the Jay Cutler-Denver Broncos situation Tuesday morning with Herm Edwards, John Clayton and Brian Billick:

  • ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards discusses the Jay Cutler situation in Denver, the possibility of Julius Peppers playing for the Patriots and how impressive the Patriots are when it comes to building their team.
  • John Clayton has the latest on Cutler and the Broncos. Where are the likely destinations for Cutler should the Broncos trade him?
  • Brian Billick says it's vital for a coach and QB to be on the same page. And while the Cutler-Broncos relationship is fractured now, it is a relationship that can be healed.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

AFC West crisis meter: One crisis averted, another in full bloom.

The results of a kinetic Tuesday night in the AFC West is this: The San Diego Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson settled their issues and remain married. The Denver Broncos and Jay Cutler, on the other hand, continue to have a fractured relationship.

 Tomlinson
 Cutler

The Broncos, who believe the relationship with Cutler is fine after a conference call between the two sides Monday, and Cutler need to come to an accord -- and fast.

Denver's chief competition in the division just secured one of their better players in the form of Tomlinson. Denver has to realize that if it is going to bypass San Diego in the division it needs Cutler.

San Diego and Tomlinson have come together, and Denver and Cutler need to do the same.

Of course, the situation in Denver is far more contentious than Tomlinson's situation ever was in San Diego. Yes, in the past couple of weeks Tomlinson's situation got a tad rocky at times. Cutler's situation in Denver is explosive.

Cutler and Denver are far apart, but the two sides can still come together. It is not too late. If Cutler shows up to the offseason workout program that starts Monday in Denver and the two sides can come to live with each other, Cutler and the Broncos can still work and live together. The truth is, Denver has no other options at quarterback and it needs Cutler.

There are no other choices.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

OK, the Jay Cutler-Denver Broncos situation has taken a step back.

The two sides spoke via conference call Monday and according to a source familiar with the phone call, it did not go well.

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The conversation was supposed to be a clearing of the air after the Broncos engaged in trade talks Feb. 28. However, the rift grew bigger when the phone conversation became contentious.

Sources said the Broncos approached Cutler as if he was the one who started the trade talks and informed him that they have no plans of trading him but that they can trade him at any time.

The next step in this saga will be Monday when the Broncos start their offseason workout program. A source close to the situation said Cutler has not decided if he will attend or not. If he doesn't it will be a clear sign to the Broncos that there are legitimate problems.

The Broncos will be in trouble if Cutler isn't there because the team needs all of its players, particularly its quarterback, to be present to start the Josh McDaniels era. It is a new system and if Cutler is not there for every minute of the offseason, even the conditioning portion, the team will take a major step backward.

If Cutler doesn't show up, it could prompt Denver to renew trade talks. The problem for Denver is that it has no answers other than Cutler at quarterback. New backup quarterback Chris Simms isn't the answer.

If Denver does end up trading Cutler it will need to either get a quarterback in return (who?) or get a high draft choice and pick a rookie quarterback. That would be starting over.
However, after the latest turn in this saga, starting over might be easier.

It seems what most bothers Cutler after the conference call is that Denver is treating him as if he was the one who initiated this saga. There is a major trust issue, and if Cutler decides not to show up for offseason workouts Monday, there will be another rift in this already tense situation.

The Broncos may want it to be over, but it is nowhere near being over.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

ESPN's Mel Kiper has never been high on quarterback Jay Cutler and he is sticking to his guns.

ESPN's draft guru chimes in with his thoughts on Cutler after Denver considered a deal that would have shipped Cutler out in exchange for Matt Cassel on Feb. 28. The link requires a subscription but it's worth a gander.

Kiper focuses on the Broncos' 17-20 record with Cutler under center as well as Cutler's penchant for making an occasional poor throw.

Kiper is a terrific talent evaluator, and I have long used him as a source at draft time. But I think he's wrong on Cutler.

As I remember, Kiper liked Vince Young and Matt Leinart better than Cutler when the three quarterbacks came out in 2006. In Kiper's defense, so did many in the league as Young was drafted third and Leinart was drafted 10th. Cutler went 11th.

But Cutler has been much better than Young and Leinart through three seasons. Cutler earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and Young and Leinart were backups on their teams.

Yes, Cutler has improvements to make, but he is 25 and has played 37 games. Cutler isn't elite yet, but he could be on his way.

 
  US Presswire
  Matt Cassel and Jay Cutler will face off twice a year in the AFC West.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham and Bill Williamson

Tremors rumbled though the NFL after the New England Patriots traded quarterback Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs. But the actual deal wasn't as startling as the plot lines that emanated from it.

We learned that a three-way trade was possible in which Cassel would have gone to the Denver Broncos, who would have sent Jay Cutler to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The trade didn't materialize, but the mere fact the Broncos considered such a swap has caused considerable strain in Denver.

Does Broncos rookie head coach Josh McDaniels really think a breakout backup is a better quarterback than the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft?

In this edition of Double Coverage, AFC West blogger Bill Williamson and AFC East counterpart Tim Graham debate the merits of Cutler and Cassel in an attempt to determine who the superior option is.

Why would McDaniels prefer Cassel over Cutler?

Tim Graham: Let's go ahead and cut to the chase, Bill. Cutler is one of the worst decision-makers in the NFL. He might be the league's most reckless starter now that Brett Favre has retired. McDaniels was raised within the Patriots organization, which places a premium on efficiency and accountability. McDaniels groomed Cassel from a player who hadn't started since high school into one of the NFL's more trustworthy passers. Cassel had a 2.1 interception percentage compared to Cutler's 2.9, but he rarely killed a drive with a bone-headed play.

Bill Williamson: Tim, there is no doubt about it. Cutler makes his share of mistakes. This guy is from the Brett Favre school of gun-slinging. He is fearless. Cutler has never seen a route he doesn't like. Often, it works in his favor; sometimes it doesn't. He does need to cut down on his interceptions. But the thing that teammates like so much about Cutler is that he tries to make the big play. And he is capable. Cutler has the ability to carry a team on his back. Cassel, again, is a system guy. In the fourth quarter, I'd take Cutler's arm and gumption any day.

TG: Cassel is no slouch late in games. Let's not forget that amazing play at the end of regulation in Week 11. With eight seconds left and the Patriots down by seven points from the New York Jets' 16-yard line, Cassel rolled right and threw a pin-point pass to Randy Moss along the sideline to send the game into overtime. It was a gutsy throw. But he never was tougher than in Week 15. A few days after his father passed away and before the funeral, Cassel threw for four touchdowns against the Raiders. Nobody can question the guy's heart.

BW: Good point, Tim. Cassel has been impressive in a short period of time. Cutler has his share of fourth-quarter magic as well. I think it all comes down to individual talent. Cutler possesses more talent than Cassel. There is a greater chance for Cutler to make a play by himself than Cassel. I think Cutler can freelance a little bit more, and he has the ability to wait out a play more because of his arm. If a play breaks down, Cutler can still make the best out of it because of his arm, field intelligence and scrambling ability.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Denver Broncos had two choices to make regarding the Jay Cutler drama that the team created.

 Cutler

They could either try to mend fences with their insulted franchise quarterback or trade him. Denver on Tuesday let the football world know that they are picking door No. 1 with this definitive quote: "The Denver Broncos are not trading Jay Cutler -- period."

This was the right move by Denver. The team had to say something. Several teams were lining up to consider making a move for Cutler.

Tuesday's statement told the league the Broncos don't want to trade Cutler, and it also showed Cutler the team was committed to him.

That was the most important part. Cutler needs to be shown some love.

When Cutler awoke Saturday morning, he felt good about being the Broncos' quarterback and he felt good about working with new coach Josh McDaniels. He wasn't happy when the team fired coach Mike Shanahan in December, but Cutler liked what he had heard from McDaniels during their brief relationship.

He didn't want to be traded. He is happy in Denver. Then his world was shook when word broke that that the Broncos were discussing trading for Matt Cassel, a deal that would send Cutler to Tampa Bay.

This created a huge mess for Denver. The fact that McDaniels, reportedly, wanted Cassel created an issue with Cutler, who didn't react well to it.

While several people close to Cutler said he was hurt, this is a fixable situation and the Broncos are going to try to fix it. Those close to Cutler say the QB is still upset, but if Denver levels with him he should be able to move on.

The team still has mending to do, but Tuesday's development is a step in the right direction.

Where would Cutler fit?

March, 2, 2009
3/02/09
6:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

This is what we know: The Denver Broncos tried to trade quarterback Jay Cutler in an attempt to get Matt Cassel.

The problem for Denver and new coach Josh McDaniels, who wanted to reunite with Cassel, is that Cassel was dealt to Kansas City and Cutler caught wind of the talks. Now, Cutler would prefer to play elsewhere because he mad at the Denver brass. But Denver doesn't have a quarterback to replace him and unless it would try to get into the Kurt Warner talks, there are no quality replacements.

Still, with Cutler preferring to leave, the word around the league is that several teams could be having internal talks about what it would take to get Cutler. After all, 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterbacks aren't always on the trading block.

Here is a list of potential teams in which it could make sense for Denver to trade with if it can't mend the issues with Cutler:

Chicago: There have been reports that Chicago wouldn't get in on the Cutler talks. But the Bears would have to consider trying to get an upgrade like Cutler.

Detroit: The Lions were one of the teams that were involved early. The Lions could make perfect sense. They need a quarterback and Cutler is a much safer bet than a rookie. The Lions would likely have to include the No. 1 overall pick and perhaps more to get Cutler so Denver can try to draft a replacement.

Minnesota: The Vikings couldn't get into the Brett Favre sweepstakes last year because the Packers wouldn't let them. There are no such restrictions this year.

New York Jets: Cutler is represented by Bus Cook, who is Favre's agent. Perhaps the two come together on another blockbuster.

San Francisco: If the 49ers don't land Warner, maybe they could turn to Cutler.

Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers were involved with the Cutler deal on Saturday. There is no reason why the Buccaneers wouldn't try to press the matter with Cutler still seething.

ESPN's Michael Smith discusses the rift between quarterback Jay Cutler and the Broncos.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Jay Cutler is not interested in chatting with the Denver Broncos right now. And the division between the team and their quarterback has spread even further.

ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen reports Cutler will not sit down with Denver coach Josh McDaniels and the Broncos brass.

Cutler told Mortensen his biggest problem is the Broncos denying they discussed a trade involving Matt Cassel.

Cutler is staying away from the team even though he was previously planning to return to Denver this week and study the new playbook with McDaniels.

This is definitely a developing situation. Denver will do one of two things to solve this gigantic problem: It will either trade Cutler or mend the situation.

The fact the team has reached out to Cutler indicates the team is trying to mend fences. Cutler would rather be traded. This could take time but Denver has to keep trying to fix the problem.

After reading Cutler's words, the team's next step may be to level with him. Cutler is clearly looking for the truth and he doesn't believe what he is hearing it from the team.

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