Tuesday, March 17, 2009 Updated: March 18, 10:47 AM ET
Broncos' McDaniels won't pamper stars
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Josh McDaniels didn't get to bring his protege with him from New England to Denver. He sure brought the Patriots' management philosophies to the Mile High City, though.
Aside from the intricate Patriots-style offense he's installing in place of the West Coast system that's been here since the 1990s, the Broncos' new coach is instilling a tenet prized by his mentor, Bill Belichick, who, for the sake of team unity, never panders to superstars.
It helps explain why McDaniels didn't just hang up the phone when teams called about a three-way swap that would have sent his best player packing and brought Matt Cassel over from New England before he landed in Kansas City instead.
It also shows why McDaniels hasn't acquiesced in the resulting feud with recalcitrant quarterback Jay Cutler, who now wants a trade.
One player McDaniels did get to bring with him to Denver is free agent wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, who said McDaniels is just like Belichick in so many ways both on the football field and in the front office.
"Just how he handles business, the way he goes about treating everybody the same. Not showing favoritism to any one player who is supposed to be I guess a 'star,'" Gaffney said. "They don't care. They want a team. A team to go out there and win. Because the individuals won't win."
Gaffney saw those philosophies firsthand when McDaniels was New England's offensive coordinator the last three years.
Even Tom Brady, a three-time Super Bowl winner, caught plenty of guff from McDaniels, Gaffney recounted.
"Yeah, I think Tom got [chewed out] just about as much as everybody else did. So, that's great. Once you see your quarterback get talked to, then you know Coach is showing no favoritism," Gaffney said.
"Everybody has to show up and play."
Which is what the Broncos want Cutler, the face of their franchise, to do.
McDaniels is still waiting for Cutler to call him so they can try to work things out one last time. Cutler is in Nashville, Tenn., waiting for a phone call telling him the Broncos have heeded his request for a trade that he made Sunday through his agent, Bus Cook.
Just two weeks ago it was the other way around in this soap opera: Cutler throwing a fit because McDaniels tried to trade him.
With the standoff continuing Tuesday, recently-signed quarterback Chris Simms tossed around some footballs at the team's training facility when the Broncos went outside for their first running drills of the offseason.
"Yeah, we've been throwing the ball around a little bit," Gaffney said.
Simms, who has thrown just two passes since undergoing emergency surgery to remove his spleen after a game in 2006, signed a two-year, $6 million free agent deal ostensibly to serve as Cutler's backup.
The only other quarterback on the roster is Darrell Hackney, whose next NFL pass will be his first.
In New England, Brady is notorious for his work ethic. But Gaffney said it wasn't just that Brady led by example.
"Everybody is held accountable," Gaffney said. "Tom did his thing, but I mean, whether he would have been there or not, everybody was going to go out there and work hard. Same thing that Josh kind of said in our team meeting: 'Everybody that's here, let's go to work. We're a team. That deal [with Cutler] with get handled.'
"So, we'll love to have him here," Gaffney said. "I was looking forward to meeting him. That will happen all in its time."
Unless Cutler forces his way out of Denver.
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Because the offseason program is voluntary, Cutler isn't being fined for his absence, although he's risking a $100,000 bonus. For a man halfway through a $48 million contract and who projects to make many millions more than that in his next contract, $100,000 is small potatoes. Money's not going to get him back.
Cutler has said he'll show up for mandatory workouts next month if he's still a member of the Broncos. The team holds its first minicamp April 17-19, a week before the draft.
If the Broncos decide to deal Cutler in exchange for another established quarterback, it would make sense to get a trade done before that first minicamp so they can start installing their new offense.
Tampa Bay and Detroit were interested in acquiring Cutler before, so it stands to reason that the Buccaneers and Lions would be at the top of the list of teams trying to pry him away now.
Other teams that might make good trade partners include the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans.
If the relationship is deemed irreparable, McDaniels might seek a high draft pick to select a passer from the college ranks, which might mean Simms being their man in the interim.
If Cutler stays, McDaniels will want bygones to be bygones because the last thing he needs is a relationship like former Broncos coach Dan Reeves had with Hall of Famer John Elway, a nasty dispute that also grew out of trade talks behind the player's back and which eventually led to Reeves' firing.
The saga doesn't seem to be bothering Cutler's teammates.
"As far as I know, Jay is still on the team, so he's still the face of the team, I guess," pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil said. "And until another message comes across the screen, that's all I know."
The Broncos declined interview requests again Tuesday for McDaniels, the general manager and the owner. Cook didn't return a call from The Associated Press.