In a statement to Yahoo! Sports and several other media outlets, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said that the team came to the decision after both he and head coach Josh McDaniels tried unsuccessfully to reach Cutler.
"Numerous attempts to contact Jay Cutler in the last 10 days, both by head coach Josh McDaniels and myself, have been unsuccessful," Bowlen said. "A conversation with his agent [Bus Cook] earlier [Tuesday] 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."
Several league personnel sources confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that at least six teams are expected to be seriously involved in trade talks: the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. The Jacksonville Jaguars have also shown interest, while the Minnesota Vikings actually pulled the plug on trade negotiations for Cutler back in February.
Other news outlets, such as Profootballtalk.com, have indicated that Washington has also expressed interest in Cutler even though the Redskins have Jason Campbell as their starter. The Redskins, who have the No. 13 overall pick in the draft, also worked out USC quarterback Mark Sanchez last week, two league sources said. Owner Dan Snyder, coach Jim Zorn and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato was part of the group that went to see Sanchez and Trojans linebacker Brian Cushing, although one source said the group was more focused on Sanchez.
Detroit, which has the No. 1 overall pick, could make the strongest play for Cutler. The Lions are considering Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the top pick, but could reduce their risk by trading for Cutler instead. In addition, the team could likely sign Cutler to a contract extension for close to the same money Stafford would command as the No. 1 pick.
In addition, NFL sources believe Cook wouldn't mind having Cutler play in Detroit because Cook also represents Lions budding star receiver Calvin Johnson.
With the top pick, Denver could go after a quarterback, although Stafford might not be the clear choice. Instead, Sanchez could enter the fray for the top pick. Sanchez ran a West Coast offense in college, a system that has some strong similarities to the offense McDaniels brought from New England when he was hired.
While Cutler is coming off a Pro Bowl season, several NFL sources have indicated that he has issues that are of concern to some teams. In 2007, Cutler lost weight during the season and dealt with weariness before doctors discovered he suffers from diabetes.
The decision to move Cutler signals what many personnel insiders had suspected for weeks: The rift between the Pro Bowl quarterback and the Broncos had long ago grown beyond repair. The fact that Cutler has gotten to the point of ignoring the owner's calls sends a crystal-clear message that he's willing to go to whatever lengths it takes to break ties with the franchise. That stance apparently solidified in late February when Cutler became aware the Broncos had attempted to engineer a deal for Matt Cassel. While Cassel ultimately ended up in Kansas City, Cutler never altered his mindset along the way, repeating in a handful of interviews that he wanted out of Denver.
The lone flicker of hope for the relationship seemed to come last week, when McDaniels spoke to the media and was complimentary of Cutler, while insisting he hoped to repair their relationship. But even the positive comments from McDaniels came with qualifiers, with him suggesting that Cutler was going to have to "get over" the failed trade scenario, and that Cook, the quarterback's agent, had no place getting involved in any reconciliation. Ultimately, McDaniels' message was clear: If the relationship was going to be repaired, it was Cutler who was going to have to make some big strides toward fixing it.
"I can't convince anybody of anything if they don't want to believe it," McDaniels said. "I think part of it is, like I said, we want him to be here, we're committed to him, and I think it's got to be two ways. I think that's the biggest thing – if he wants to commit to us, then I think there are some certain things that he's going to have to get over personally. And that's a challenge for him. It's a challenge in this whole situation."
Now that reconciliation appears dead, Cutler will be shopped on the open market.
Yahoo! Sports national NFL writer Jason Cole contributed to this article.
- Josh McDaniels
- Jay Cutler