Jay Cutler is officially on the trading block and according to multiple reports the Jets are interested in his services. But while the rumor mill is churning, GM Mike Tannenbaum is not showing his cards, declining comment to the Radar about whether the Jets want to be dealt into the Cutler tournament.
Around 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday (as Jets head coach Rex Ryan and a small group of his assistants were watching the Golden Gloves boxing semifinals at Michael J. Petrides High School on Staten Island, N.Y.), the Denver Broncos released the following statement from their owner, Pat Bowlen:
"Numerous attempts to contact Jay Cutler in the last 10 days, both by head coach Josh McDaniels and myself, have been unsuccessful. A conversation with his agent earlier today clearly communicated and confirmed to us that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos. We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded."
No matter what paper you read or what site you visit today, the Jets and some/all of the following teams have been mentioned as potential Cutler suitors: Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.
To say this situation is unique would be an understatement. When was the last time such a gifted QB has been traded as he's poised to enter his prime? The 6'3", 233-pound Cutler, who will turn 26 on April 29, is perhaps the most physically gifted passer in football.
He made a post-Thanksgiving visit to the Meadowlands on Nov. 30 and put on an aerial show. Despite the rain and raw conditions, he torched the Jets for 357 yards and two touchdown passes in a 34-17 road win. Cutler, a cocky youngster who was selected No. 11 overall out of Vanderbilt in 2006, rubbed Kerry Rhodes the wrong way during that contest and the Jets' safety has publicly made known his dislike for the prolific passer this off-season. But Rhodes also said last week he could play with the QB if the two wound up on the same team.
Reports have Cutler recently moving out of his Nashville, Tenn., home for parts unknown while the Broncos continue their off-season workout program. He demanded a trade after new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels had talks with the New England Patriots about acquiring McDaniels' former protégé, Matt Cassel. Despite subsequent discourse, Cutler's desire to leave never changed and now he appears on his way out.
Throughout the off-season, the Jets have continued to state that they are comfortable with their quarterback situation. Unless the team makes a play for Cutler or drafts a quarterback in Round 1, Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge will battle for the top spot in camp.
What would it take to land Cutler? Ah, a great question, but who knows if the Broncos even have the answer at the moment? They likely will be in a situation to play teams off of each other and a three-team trade can't be dismissed.
But Cutler won't come cheap. The Denver Post quoted an unnamed high-profile agent as saying: "I could see a first[-rounder] and a second this year and a first next year. If you're looking at some unknown kid in the draft, you'd much rather have Cutler. You're talking about a quarterback who's athletic and talented. The only question on this kid is maturity, but he's going to grow from this."
The Cutler story will continue to grow as well. Eight months after landing Brett Favre in a trade, the Jets have the option to take a similar route to acquire Cutler. When asked last season if he though he had a stronger arm than Favre, Cutler didn't shy away.
"He's 39, soon to be 40. I think he may have given me a run back in his 20s, but I think I got him now."
Many Jets fans would love to see Cutler follow Favre to New York. Interestingly enough, the two men share the same agent in Bus Cook and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum has a strong working relationship with Cook.
The Jay Cutler sweepstakes have begun. As Ryan signed autographs and posed for photos Tuesday night at the fights, one spectator stood behind the head coach in the bleachers. Donning Broncos garb (in Staten Island of all places), he yelled in no uncertain terms that the Jets had to get Cutler.