Now that the Chicago Bears are reportedly actively shopping quarterback Jay Cutler, there’s one big question. Will any team actually give up compensation to acquire the embattled and injury-plagued veteran?
Based on the fact that as much as eight teams will likely be looking for a new starting quarterback, there’s a decent chance that Cutler himself might actually be traded. That comes following months of rumors that Cutler would be released outright.
Set to count $16 million against the cap in 2017, Cutler’s contract actually isn’t a major hold up here. It was at the time he inked the extension. But as the quarterback market has played out, his annual salary is right in the middle of the pack. Add in the fact that there’s no dead money on his deal after the 2017 season, and this is magnified further.
When taking a look at potential landing spots for Cutler, we came up with the likeliest possibilities.
New York Jets
With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith both slated to become free agents and likely to move on, New York has a glaring need at the quarterback position. Bryce Petty proved absolutely nothing in limited playing time last season. Meanwhile, 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg didn’t see the field at all.
That’s an amazing realization to come to, especially considering New York’s quarterbacks threw a combined 16 touchdowns compared to 25 interceptions. Simply put, the Jets’ brass didn’t have faith in the high-round pick taking regular-season snaps. That should tell us a story about how the team feels about him.
Also important to note here, the Jets just recently hired Jeremy Bates to be their new quarterbacks coach. He worked with Cutler in both Denver and Chicago, which only adds more fuel to the fire here.
New York would have to make room for Cutler under the cap if it were to pull off a trade for the veteran. The team currently sits just $3 million under the cap. Though, that could change if the Jets were to release Darrelle Revis after his recent off-field incident.
San Francisco 49ers
New 49ers general manager John Lynch has continued to indicate he’s not looking for a short-term fix at quarterback. That’s fine and dandy, but the team continues to be linked to veterans. Recent reports suggest that both Matt Schaub and Brian Hoyer are possibilities here.
A lot of this will depend on what happens with Colin Kaepernick. He’s expected to opt out of his contract and has a meeting set with San Francisco’s new brass. It will surely be interesting to see what comes of that.
What we do know is that San Francisco will likely be in the market for a veteran quarterback. It has already been linked to both Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garappolo. Though, each of those options would take a much larger investment in terms of cash and draft pick compensation heading the other way.
With Cutler, the 49ers could potentially get away with offering a late-round pick to the Bears. It would enable him to be a stopgap option in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. And based on how much Matt Ryan improved under Shanahan in Atlanta, it’s not unreasonable to believe Cutler could have a career renaissance of sorts in Northern California.
San Francisco boasts $80-plus million in cap room. It could conceivably take on Cutler’s current contract for a season or two without much of a long-term impact against the cap. In reality, this seems to make a whole lot of sense.
One would have to assume that Cuter might just decide to retire rather than spend the latter part of his career wasting away in Cleveland.
After all, quarterbacks that have taken to the Browns’ starting job over the past two decades have not exactly performed at a high clip. This was magnified in 2016 when three different signal callers started games for what would eventually be a one-win team.
Though, there has to be something to the idea of Hue Jackson helping Cutler overcome his recent poor play. Jackson is among the most-respected quarterbacks whisperers in the NFL.
With a need at quarterback after last season’s dumpster fire, we can expect Cleveland to exhaust all options here. It has already released Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III doesn’t seem to be the long-term solution here. Add in the fact that Cleveland is unlikely to go quarterback with the first pick, and this just makes too much sense. It surely doesn’t hurt that the Browns have nearly $110 million to spend under the cap.
Hear us out for a second. Brock Osweiler is bad. That’s not hyperbole. Osweiler was absolutely horrendous for the eventual AFC South champion Texans after signing an absurd $72 million contract with the team last spring. Heck, he was benched in favor of Tom Savage before Savage himself was injured. Osweiler would end up throwing three interceptions in what was an otherwise winnable game against the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
How bad was Osweiler in 2016? There’s been rumors linking Houston to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. While Houston might be stuck with Osweiler, that doesn’t mean it will actually let him see the field in 2017. That’s important to note when looking at Cutler as an option.
The issue here is that Cutler would likely have to take a dramatic pay cut in order to be moved to the Texans. Simply put, they are not going to exhaust nearly $38 million on the quarterback position in 2017.