The NCAA may have had the "Madness" to themselves in March, but the NFL has grabbed a share this early April with the developing Jay Cutler tale. The Denver Broncos have begun to entertain offers for their quarterback and the Jets' signalcallers will be significantly impacted by any deal.
"He's going to go somewhere — still doesn't necessarily mean here or to a place that's going to affect who's in the locker room here. We just kind of wait," said Kellen Clemens today. "That will all kind of play itself out in time. Again, we'll just take care of what's going on here right now."
"You can't worry about that kind of stuff," added Brett Ratliff. "You just have to control what you can control, and that's how hard you work and how you approach each day."
For Clemens, this must feel like déjà vu all over again. Last summer his competition with Chad Pennington for the starting job came to a screeching halt when the Green & White acquired Brett Favre on Aug. 6. Weeks of rampant speculation preceded the stunning deal.
Clemens recalled that when the Favre talk heated up, general manager Mike Tannenbaum called both QBs in.
"He said, 'Look, this is the situation. We have contacted him. Up to this point, it is not going to go any farther than that.' He was very open and very honest with us," Clemens said. "My relationship hasn't changed and if something comes up he is going to probably visit with us about it. We trust them in their decisions."
Ratliff, a practice squad player in 2007, was not part of the starter picture months ago. He flourished throughout the summer and flashed in exhibition game action, but the Favre trade didn't have anywhere as near a direct impact on him as it did Clemens.
"I had a great time last year, learning from a great quarterback in Chad and having the opportunity to learn from Brett," Ratty said. "Whatever happens, I continue to learn, continue to get better."
Clemens, who started eight games in 2007, sees this as his time. While he respects management for continuing its talent search under every rock, the 6'2", 223-pounder believes they've got what they need in the building.
"It's motivating. Obviously the organization is constantly looking to upgrade the position, as they should. In my heart, I feel like I'm a very good option for this football team," he said. "Anytime you hear rumors or you hear speculation, it motivates me a little bit to continue to prove that they don't need to look outside the organization."
You could say that Clemens is trying to stay inside his own cocoon. He doesn't watch much TV these days and said his wife, Nicole, filters out things as well. For his part, Ratliff still watches sports but is not much of a reader.
"I watch ESPN but it's not for that — it's to catch the highlights of March Madness," he said. "I love sports still, but sometimes it's going to be good and sometimes it's going to be bad."
Erik Ainge was not seen in the locker room Thursday, but all three passers have worked out diligently this off-season. They're the only QBs here at the moment in Florham Park, even though Cutler dominates the talk in the media sessions.
"I try not to let it affect me right now and the preparation that I am doing because the whole thing might blow over and he might go somewhere else," Clemens said. "All three of us are still here and we go forward. You don't want to lose these days of preparation, worrying about hypotheticals."