NFL Betting: Analyzing Cutlergate
by Trevor Whenham - 03/25/2009
You know the NFL is the king of all sports when the NCAA Tournament is in full swing, the NBA and NHL are heading into the playoffs, and the Super Bowl was almost two months ago, yet a pouting quarterback is still one of the biggest stories in sports. Jay Cutler and the Denver Broncos have managed to turn an offseason that was already reasonably eventful and turn it into a ridiculous soap opera. Unless you have been living under a rock you know the story, so I'll just rehash the basics.
After a late season collapse that left them out of the playoffs, the Broncos fired longtime coach Mike Shanahan and replaced him with Josh McDaniels, the 32-year-old former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. When the Pats decided to trade Matt Cassel, McDaniels made a logical decision - he would try to trade for the QB he knows instead of one who he is unfamiliar with - especially because his new quarterback hasn't accomplished more in concrete terms than his old one did. The trade attempt failed, but Cutler's feelings were hurt, and he demanded a trade. There were attempts at appeasement and reconciliation, but they haven't seemed to work. Now the coach is saying that Cutler is his quarterback, though he won't rule out any possibilities. Cutler isn't planning on attending off-season workouts, and he still says he wants to be traded. In short, it's a mess.
There is one logical outcome here - Cutler remains a Bronco. He's a solid quarterback with a bright future, and he would benefit from the offensive savvy of McDaniels. He also hasn't accomplished enough in his career to be this much of a diva. He should just swallow his pride, be the bigger man, and get back with his team. He needs to realize that he is not likely to land in a better situation than he is already in. The Broncos should also do everything they can to keep their QB around and happy. They don't have another viable option around, and it would be very difficult for them to get equivalent value back. The relationship is only bruised, so there is no reason to treat it like it is broken.
That's what makes sense, but what makes sense isn't always what happens in the NFL. There is a lot of interest in Cutler from other teams - reportedly as many as 10. That means that the offers will get better and better, and the chances that he will get moved get higher. If he were to get moved, here's a look at the five destinations that are most likely for him. Keep in mind that any deal has a real complication involved - Denver needs a new QB if they get rid of Cutler. They have Chris Simms, but that hardly seems like a workable long-term option. That makes a deal more complex and challenging:
1. Detroit Lions - The Lions' need is obvious - they don't have a long-term quarterback, and they desperately need someone to build a team around. They also have a wealth of draft picks that could be attractive. I'm not personally convinced that Matthew Stafford is an upgrade from Cutler, but I'm not the one that has to be. If McDaniels thinks so then this could happen.
2. Cleveland Browns - You could argue that the Browns wouldn't be in the market because they already have two quarterbacks. New coach Eric Mangini, though, has shown a shocking willingness to send anyone out of town. Kellen Winslow is gone and it looks like Braylon Edwards might follow him, so there is no reason to think that Brady Quinn is secure. Cleveland could be useful either as a direct trading partner, or as part of a three-way deal.
3. New York Jets - The Jets have the same group of quarterbacks around that they had before Brett Favre arrived in town. They still decided that they needed Favre, so it only makes sense that they would jump at the chance to upgrade their quarterbacking situation again. The Jets are not in a market or a division that tolerates patience in development quarterbacks that might not even turn out to be any good.
4. Chicago Bears - The Bears need a quarterback. Badly. Of course, that has been the situation for years now, so there is no reason to think that this is the year that they are going to make a change. I also struggle to see the Bears as the type of team that would pay the price that the Broncos are likely to demand for Cutler. It could happen, but I would bet against it. I only really put them on here because it would improve their team so much.
5. Washington Redskins - If it involves spending lots of money and taking big risks with personnel then you have to consider Washington. They have Jason Campbell in town, but the team doesn't seem to be entirely convinced by him. Cutler would be an upgrade in terms of proven performance if not potential. I don't necessarily see Washington as the ultimate destination, but they will certainly help to drive the price up.