The Denver Broncos will make it official Monday that they have switched quarterbacks from 10-year veteran Jake Plummer to rookie Jay Cutler even though they are in the midst of the playoff race, according to a league source. Cutler's first start will come against the Seahawks on Dec. 3.
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan made the decision known to several members of the team's staff Saturday and word leaked by early Sunday. The Broncos are 7-4 and currently in third place in the AFC West behind San Diego (8-2) and Kansas City (7-4).
Plummer played poorly in the Broncos' 19-10 loss to Kansas City on Thanksgiving Day. He struggled again in the fourth quarter, a week after having an interception and two fumbles in the fourth quarter of a loss to San Diego.
Cutler was the No. 11 pick in the NFL draft in April and played impressively in training camp. However, Shanahan stuck with Plummer, hoping the veteran would improve upon his career-best 2005 season when he helped lead the Broncos to the AFC championship game before playing poorly against Pittsburgh.
Instead, Plummer regressed. He is currently ranked No. 29 in the NFL in quarterback rating (70.5) and has thrown more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (11). The Broncos had only two games this season in which their offense scored more than 20 points.
Two sources close to the situation confirmed the change, although Culter's agent, Bus Cook, said he was unaware of the situation.
"I talked to Jay on Saturday and he didn't know anything about it," Cook said. "That's the coaches' decision and we'll see what he does."
Cutler, a heralded passer from Vanderbilt, was the third quarterback selected in the draft behind Vince Young of Tennessee and Matt Leinart of Arizona. Young and Leinart – as well as Tampa Bay sixth-round pick Bruce Gradkowski – are starting and have shown promise at times.