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NFC South must move on without Cutler

4/2/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Well, so much for all that talk of Jay Cutler to Tampa Bay, which we've been talking about for more than a month.

Cutler's going to Chicago. Not sure if the Bucs got heavily involved in the trade talks this time around, but they did at least try consider trading for Cutler back in February. Too bad they couldn't pull it off back then because the price that was tossed around then would have been their first-round pick in a three-way deal that also included New England.

Chicago wound up giving up starting quarterback Kyle Orton and first-round picks this year and next year to get Cutler. If the Bucs really were involved this time around, they made the right move by not trying to outbid the Bears. Tampa Bay would have had to mortgage its future to get Cutler.

So where do the Bucs turn from here? There's no question the Bucs will add a quarterback to compete with Luke McCown. There have been reports the Browns might be willing to trade either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson. That's a situation the Bucs need to look at.

Their other options would be signing one of the remaining free agents (the choices aren't particularly attractive) or drafting a quarterback. Kansas State's Josh Freeman might be the only option at No. 19, but don't rule out the possibility of the Bucs trying to trade up to get USCs Mark Sanchez.

One other NFC South note related to Cutler: There was a lot of wishful thinking by fans that the Panthers might try to get the quarterback and offer Julius Peppers in return. Nice thought and it made some sense, but there are no indications the Panthers ever got involved in talks with the Broncos.