By Bryan Dietzler
It’s almost a certainty that Jay Cutler is going to not be a Chicago Bear next season. You haven’t heard him mentioned as part of General Manager Ryan Pace’s future plans. The media is talking about him but not in any capacity that would suggest he won’t be back with the Bears in 2017. They are considering him an afterthought in Chicago Bears lore.
If the Bears are smart, which sometimes it would appear they struggle with, they would try to trade Cutler instead of cutting him. They need to get something out of him and getting a draft pick or a productive player would be a plus.
But what teams would be willing to trade for the nearly “broken” quarterback? What could the Bears get out of him? Why do we even care where Cutler goes?
Fans should take some interest in where Cutler could go. Why? Because it will dictate how much they might get back in return (in draft picks or players). The more desperate the team, the more they will be willing to give up to get someone.
But who would be desperate enough to trade for a quarterback like Cutler?
Believe it or not, many teams would probably try get him, if not as a starter, then as a backup.
This writer has nailed down five possible landing spots for Cutler and what it means for both him and the Bears.
Yes, Jay Cutler may be on his way out and he has had a poor career in Chicago. He is an enigma and most of the fan base may dislike him. But he will leave Chicago with several franchise records while he kept things interesting since 2009.
Yes, the media now reports that the New York Jets aren’t interested in Cutler but do NFL teams tell reporters what they are really going to do? The Jets need a quarterback and Cutler could help them for a season or two while they draft and develop a franchise player (sound familiar Bears fans?). Sure, it might be a little interesting with Brandon Marshall there but the Cutler to Marshall connection could be re-kindled.
The addition of Cutler could help the Jets find some success on offense and help get them moving in the right direction. It depends on what weapons they can provide Cutler as well as how well he takes to the new offense. A Cutler to the Jets scenario would be nearly ideal.
But who or what could the Bears get in return? The Jets have some decent defenders that could be of some interest to Chicago. But would New York be willing to let them go? People have discussed having the Bears try to acquire Muhammad Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson for Cutler. That would certainly be worth it as the Bears would get something in return for him.
A trade to the Jets could be a good move, for the right price. And it makes sense.
The Jacksonville Jaguars felt that Blake Bortles would be their long-term answer at quarterback when they drafted him in 2014. But he has not been what they thought he would be. This may be the last year the Jaguars try to see what they have in Bortles. And they could use another, more experienced quarterback, to either help guide him along (with advice) or push him. Cutler could be that guy.
Jacksonville could provide Chicago with some draft picks which they could use to help upgrade their roster. Right now, there aren’t too many players that are rumored to be up for trade in Jacksonville but maybe the Bears could try to get them to part with a good defensive player. Jacksonville’s defense is talented but just not terribly effective.
Don’t think it is too far-fetched to think that the Jaguars may be interested in Cutler. He could be a good backup and start in a pinch. And with Bortles struggling, they might be able to use him for motivation or to help them win a few games.
No list of where a quarterback could land would be complete without adding Cleveland to it. The Browns are never settled at the quarterback position and might be interested in Cutler. He could help add some competition at the positon there, where Robert Griffin III appears to be the front runner. Cutler might even be able to earn himself a starting spot. At the least, he could help provide them with some depth.
What would Cleveland be willing to give up to get Cutler? Draft picks shouldn’t be a problem. They have plenty. There may not be too many players they the Bears want, in trade, but they could always use some draft picks. But Cutler could join the never-ending quarterback carousel in Cleveland. Would he really want to do that?
The San Francisco 49ers are probably going to let Colin Kapernick go and Blaine Gabbert is not the long-term answer. So, they will be in the market for a quarterback. They could choose one in the draft with the number two pick in the first round and use a bridge quarterback to help then get through the next season or two (again, sound familiar?). Cutler could be that bridge quarterback.
One thing that Cutler brings to any team is experience and the new regime in San Francisco may like that. They house cleaning and talent searching the 49ers will is probably going to come with a much more “open wallet”. The Bears could come out with something valuable for Cutler. Draft picks? The 49ers have them. And a up and coming player wouldn’t be bad either.
Any fan of the Bears will remember that former offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Cutler had a good relationship when they were together in 2015. Gase helped current Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill develop and perhaps he could get Cutler in Miami.
There were some rumors that Tannehill and the Dolphins coaching staff may not be getting along. It’s possible that was true and when those whispers were flying around, Cutler to Miami rumors were stirring. But imagine this one. Cutler to Miami and Tannehill to Chicago. There is the bridge quarterback the Bears need. And Tannehill isn’t too bad of a signal caller.
Could the Bears make it happen? Perhaps this would be the ideal scenario.
After years of trouble and heartache it’s finally time for the Bears to let Cutler go. He has struggled in Chicago and the Bears have struggled with him. As much as people dislike him and blame for years of ineptitude he was not completely responsible for all of Chicago’s problems. But he had a hand in a better part of the Bears issues over the past few seasons.
Perhaps he deserves a pleasant sendoff while the Bears get something back in return.