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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Time for Bucs to take shot at Cutler

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Denver Broncos just put up a statement on their Web site. I'm guessing they also sent e-mails or made telephone calls to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Probably the Carolina Panthers and maybe 29 other teams.

In short, the Broncos formally announced quarterback Jay Cutler is available for trade. This is the kind of move you make only after every bridge has been burned and it's also a sign of desperation by the Broncos.

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Backing off their declarations that Cutler wasn't available weakens Denver's position. It also means the price tag for Cutler probably has dropped because everyone now knows the Broncos don't want their quarterback.

That's probably good news for the Bucs, who were the first team to jump into the Cutler sweepstakes. They tried (unsuccessfully) to deal for him back at the start of free agency in a three-way trade that would have brought Cutler to the Bucs, sent Matt Cassel to Denver and a first-round pick to New England.

The Patriots instead sent Cassel to Kansas City and word was out that Cutler could be available. That elevated the Lions and Jets, who have more draft picks available than the Bucs, into the top spots for Cutler. Tampa Bay has a first-round pick (No. 19 overall), but no second-round pick because the Bucs traded it to Cleveland for tight end Kellen Winslow.

Now, it's time for every team interested in Cutler to put all their cards on the table. We'll find out if the Lions and Jets were bluffing in their reported interest in Cutler. We'll also find out if Tampa Bay is willing to gamble everything it has.

To truly get into this game, the Bucs have to bid at least their first-round pick. To stay in the game, they'll probably need to come up with more -- like a first-round pick in 2010 and maybe a player or two.

It's time for the Bucs to go all-in. It also might be time for the Panthers, who may or may not be willing to trade defensive end Julius Peppers, to get involved if they really want to replace Jake Delhomme.

The Broncos have placed Cutler on the block. It's time for somebody to step forward and grab him.