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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Which Team will get Jay Cutler?

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Three years ago, the Denver Broncos pulled a bold move and moved up the draft board to select Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler took over for veteran quarterback Jake Plummer just over halfway through his rookie campaign. He has since shown improvement through his second and third NFL seasons, making the Pro Bowl this past season after discovering in his second year that he suffered from diabetes and with treatment could be healthy again.

At the end of the season, the Broncos were dissatisfied after missing the playoffs for the third straight year. It was evident that defensive upgrades were a must, especially to the front seven. However, the powers that be in the Broncos organization decided that even more change was needed. Mike Shanahan was let go and 32-year-old Josh McDaniels, the former offensive coordinator for the England">New England Patriots">England">New England Patriots, was brought in. Cutler was unhappy about Shanahan's release, but understood it was part of the game. He begged for his quarterback coach, Jeremy Bates, to be kept on staff, but Bates moved on to USC.

And then the real trouble started. A rumor was leaked to the media that McDaniels had been in contact with the Patriots trying to work a deal that would have sent Cutler to Tampa or Detroit, a first round draft pick to he Patriots, and Matt Cassel to Denver. McDaniels had coached Cassel last year and thought a familiar quarterback would speed the transition. After a series of meetings and text messages, things escalated quickly. Finally, Cutler's agent asked for a trade. As of Friday, March 20, 2009, a source close to the Broncos said there are 10 teams who have called about the availability of Jay. Here is a look at where Jay might be playing next season and the probability of him ending up there.

The following teams already have a solid franchise quarterback and so the likelihood of them ending up with Cutler is very slim, less than 5%. These teams are Atlanta (Matt Ryan), Baltimore (Joe Flaco), Cincinnati (Carson Palmer), Dallas (Tony Romo), Indianapolis (Peyton Manning), England">New England (Tom Brady), New York Giants">New York Giants (Eli Manning), New Orleans (Drew Brees), Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger), and San Diego (Phillip Rivers).

The next tier of teams has a number of teams with a starting quarterback who is probably not as good, or at least not as long term, as Cutler. These teams will have a better chance than the previous tier, but they are not the most likely destinations.

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Miami - Chad Pennington looked promising last year so even though he is getting older, they will probably stick with him. Chance of Jay - 10%

Buffalo - Trent Edwards ousted J.P. Losman to win the starting position there, but some are not sold on Trent yet. Chance of Jay - 10%

Jacksonville - The Jaguars still like David Garrard, so they will probably stick with him. Chance of Jay - 10%

Green Bay - Aaron Rogers played decent this past season and the Packers will not want to give up on him yet. However, it has to be intriguing for them to move up. The only way this deal happens is if Jay drops agent Bus Cook as the Packers aren't very fond of him after the Brett Favre debacle from last season. Chance of Jay - 10%

Seattle - Matt Hasselbeck is a decent quarterback, but he is getting older and missed much of last season with injuries. Concern that he may not be healthy next year and that it might be Seneca Wallace taking the snaps next year might be motivation for the Seahawks to make a move. Chance of Jay - 15%

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St. Louis - The Rams signed Marc Bulger to a big deal 2 years ago. He has struggled since, but it is hard to do much when you are running for your life. The Rams may consider an upgrade at quarterback, but there are many positions they need much worse. Chance of Jay - 15%

Oakland - JaMarcus Russell is still young and showed some improvement last season, but he is not a top tier quarterback yet and the Raiders would love to steal this prospect from their division foes. However, it will take a great offer to get the Broncos to move him within the division. Chance of Jay - 20%

Arizona - Arizona just brought Kurt Warner back for two more years and they have the guy they drafted instead of Cutler 3 years ago waiting in the wings (Matt Leinart). The Cardinals will give it some thought, but this is probably not the direction they will ultimately go. Chance of Jay - 20%

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Houston - Matt Schaub will probably be the starter in Houston, but with the connections between the Broncos and the Texans there is a possibility of a move here, albeit a slim one. Chance of Jay - 20%

Tennessee - After resigning Kerry Collins the Titans are set for now, and with Vince Young waiting in the wings, they will probably pass on Cutler. However, if they decide Vince is not their future, they made offer him as part of a trade to the Broncos. Chance of Jay - 20%

Cleveland - With Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn both on the roster, they have a quarterback situation of their own. However, Cutler is an upgrade over either of those guys, and Quinn played his college ball for McDaniels' former co-worker Charlie Weis, so this remains a possibility. Chance of Jay - 35%

Carolina - The Panthers were glad in 2008 to have Jake Delhomme back from his elbow injury that he sustained in the 2007 season. However, after his dismal performance in the playoffs (5 interceptions), the clamor has grown for a new man to call signals. An interesting possibility might involve Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler swapping teams. Chance of Jay - 40%

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Kansas City - Although they appear set after trading for Matt Cassel earlier this off season, the Chiefs hold the man that started all of this. McDaniels may try to work a deal to get Cassel in his back field while giving Kansas City a promising young quarterback. Chance of Jay - 50%

Philadelphia - The Eagles have Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb on the roster as the quarterback of now and the quarterback of the future. Coach Andy Reid is convinced that McNabb is the answer; however Philly's fans and some of the team would love a young guy like Cutler to come in and lead them to a title. With plenty of trade bait and the pressure from the fans, they might be willing to make a move. Chance of Jay - 50%

The final tier is teams who could really use a quarterback. These teams are in need of a leader and want to find a solution soon. With the draft being thin on quarterbacks who could come in and start right away, they may be moving in that direction.

Chicago - Sometimes it seems that the Bears just don't want to get better. They haven't had a pro bowl quarterback for about 20 years. A few years ago they refused to upgrade Rex Grossman. Last year, they decided that this was a necessary upgrade, but Kyle Orton may not be the answer either. Jay would be the best quarterback the Bears have had in a long time... possibly ever. Don't expect this news though. Chance of Jay - 50%

Minnesota - If only the Vikings had a quarterback last year, they would have been favored to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Instead, they were beaten in the first round of the playoffs. The Vikings did acquire Sage Rosenfels from the Texans, but they will explore Cutler as an option. Unfortunately for Viking fans, they probably don't have the ammunition they would need to make this trade happen. Chance of Jay - 60%

Tampa Bay - If Tampa had a young quarterback and a second round pick, they would be all over the Broncos trying to make this deal. They would love to have Jay instead of Luck McNown. Maybe they will find a way to make a three way deal, but it could be tricky for them. Chance of Jay - 60%

Washington - Jason Campbell has played well at times and not so well at others. The Redskins say that they are satisfied with him, but some signs say otherwise. They have worked big deals with the Broncos before and are known for trying to build the team through trades and signings as opposed to the draft. Chance of Jay - 70%

San Francisco- The 49ers drafted Alex Smith hoping he would be their quarterback of the future. He and Shaun Hill are neck in neck in a race to see who will be starting this year. Adding Cutler may be what the 49ers need to make a push at the NFC West. They could move one of their quarterbacks along with some draft picks and have a starter set for next season. Chance of Jay - 75%

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Detroit - What does Detroit have to offer? They have two of the first twenty draft picks this year. They would love Jay Cutler in the motor city. He would be able to throw to Calvin Johnson and the Broncos would be able to select whoever they wanted in the draft. The only problem is that they wouldn't probably have a starting quarterback this season. Chance of Jay - 80%

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New York Jets - The Jets made a big deal last year to get a quarterback who wanted out of his current situation who was represented by Bus Cook. Will they do the deal again? It is rumored that the Broncos want a first and second round pick plus a young quarterback. The Jets have Kellen Clemens who they have little confidence in and a couple of younger guys who aren't ready to be starters yet. The Jets will either make this trade or try drafting someone. Chance of Jay - 85%

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The final team in this debacle is the Broncos themselves. McDaniels has made statements that Cutler is their quarterback of the future or Cutler has demanded a trade. Chris Simms, the backup quarterback, would probably love it if Cutler leaves and he was given a chance to compete for the starting spot. Could things be smoothed over? Will Cutler and McDaniels make up? Can the rest of the team put this distraction behind them and play football? Only time will tell. However, in my humble opinion, Jay will be wearing a Broncos uniform next year. Chance of Jay - 95%