NFC North: Bill Wade
Minnesota never appeared to join the intense bidding last week for quarterback Jay Cutler, who landed with an NFC North rival in Chicago. We left open the possibility that there was some under-the-radar involvement, but coach Brad Childress slammed the door on that idea in this interview with Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Childress didn't provide a direct reason for the Vikings' lack of interest but noted the challenge of fitting a new quarterback into an established scheme.
Childress: "He's a good player, and obviously I don't question his physical skills. But obviously it will be what he can do in relationship to the team to help the team. ... Are they going to be able to match their offense up to what he can do offensively? I think there's kind of a ferreting-out period."
Childress acknowledged the steep price the Bears were forced to pay -- three high draft choices plus quarterback Kyle Orton -- and added: "You always have to give something to get something. Time will tell whether the give was better or the get was better."
Reasonable people can debate whether, as Childress said, the "get" will be better than the "give." But the Vikings' decision to sit out the trade talks entirely represents one of two things: Either a stunning lack of ambition at the game's most important position, or simply a deep confidence in the combination of current quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.
Catching up on the weekend from around the NFC North:
- The Vikings and cornerback Antoine Winfield are in intense negotiations for a contract extension, according to Zulgad.
- But it's not clear when the sides will strike a deal, writes Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- The Vikings open their offseason strength and conditioning program Monday, two weeks later than in previous years, Zulgad notes.
- Cutler is not afraid of confrontation, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. Haugh: "In three years in the league, that has become as obvious about Cutler as his rocket right arm."
- Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times takes the pulse of Cutler's hometown in Indiana.
- Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean compares Cutler's path to that of another Vanderbilt quarterback, Bill Wade, who was traded to the Bears and led them to the 1963 NFL championship.
- Virginia offensive lineman Eugene Monroe visited Detroit on Friday, according to David Birkett of the Oakland Press.
- Free agent Ephraim Salaam visited Detroit, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press. Salaam could be a short-term fix at left tackle if the Lions move Jeff Backus to left guard.
We touched on the historic abomination of Chicago's quarterback position Thursday in the minutes after the blockbuster Jay Cutler trade, noting the Bears have had only one Pro Bowl quarterback in the past 46 years.
Our friends at ESPN Stats & Information have generated a few other ways of expressing how significant Cutler's arrival in Chicago will be. (As of now, Cutler is scheduled to hold a 6 p.m. ET news conference at the Bears' practice facility. We'll bring you updates as warranted.)
Leading off, it's fair to say that Cutler's performance in Denver last season would have qualified as the single-best season in Chicago's 89-year team history. Check it out, noting that Bill Wade (1962!) holds the Bears' record for most 300-yard games while the remaining marks belong to Erik Kramer (1995):
Cutler earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2008, his third NFL season. The Bears, on the other hand, have the league's second-longest active streak of seasons since placing a quarterback in the Pro Bowl:
Finally, the Bears have produced the second-fewest 3,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history. Only the Baltimore Ravens, which has been in existence for 76 fewer years than the Bears, have less. Chicago also has started an NFL-high 22 different quarterbacks since 1990. Take a look:
Just how quarterback-starved have the Chicago Bears been in their history?
Cutler played in the Pro Bowl earlier this year, a feat only one Bears quarterback has achieved in the past 46 years. That's right, other than Jim McMahon's appearance in the game following the 1985 season, you have to go all the way back to Bill Wade in 1963 to find a Bears quarterback on a Pro Bowl roster. Overall, the Bears have placed four different quarterbacks in the Pro Bowl four times since 1951.
Here's the full list:
1985: Jim McMahon
1963: Bill Wade
1956: Ed Brown
1955: Ed Brown
1952: Johnny Lujack
1951: Johnny Lujack
Since McMahon's final season as the Bears' primary starter in 1988, the Bears have had a revolving door of quarterbacks. All told, 13 different players have finished as the team's leading passer over the ensuing 20 seasons. With the Cutler trade, it's a fairly safe assumption that the ignominious run -- which started with Mike Tomczak and ended with Kyle Orton -- has ended.
I'll keep filling the blog until about 7:30 p.m. ET, when Bears general manager Jerry Angelo will hold a teleconference. I'll jump back on shortly thereafter.