There is a ton to unpack in the Miami Dolphins' decision to give Jay Cutler a one-year, $10 million contract with the potential for another $3 million in incentives.
Let’s start with Miami’s decision to woo Cutler.
Clearly, the Dolphins believe that Ryan Tannehill is done for the season and either will or should be having surgery on his left knee in the near future.
Cutler will arrive to be a savior for a Dolphins team looking for a return trip to the playoffs, but he would be a huge distraction should Tannehill suddenly return to the locker room and huddle to reclaim his starting quarterback spot.
But does it tell us more?
Cutler is 34, more middle-aged than ancient by NFL quarterback standards, and should he lead the Dolphins back to the playoffs this season, Miami will have a quarterback controversy on its hands, like it or not.
The Cutler signing may tell us that head coach Adam Gase is not convinced that Tannehill is the future for the Dolphins.
Eli Manning (36), Philip Rivers (35) and Ben Roethlisberger (35) are all older than Cutler, while Tom Brady is 40 and Drew Brees is 38. All are still playing at or near their peaks.
Should it prove there is a special connection between Cutler and Gase, and that the former’s unique gifts are finally unlocked, there’s no reason he can’t be the Dolphins quarterback for the next three, four or five years.
What about the decision to ignore Matt Moore, one of the best backup quarterbacks in the game and the guy who led Miami to three wins last December to get them to the playoffs?
My first instinct was that Cutler may not be that much better than Moore – more gifted, yes, but not much more accomplished – but a closer look reveals that to be untrue.
Moore is 15-14 as a starter in the NFL, and his career numbers are 508-of-856 for 6,077 yards, 59.3 completion percentage, 7.1 yards per attempt, 41 TDs and 31 INTs for a 3.6% interception percentage.
Cutler is just 69-72 as a starter, 2,782-4,491, 32,467, he’s marginally more accurate at 61.9 completion percentage and with 208 TDs versus 146 interceptions. Cutler is slightly ahead of Moore, with a 3.3 percent interception percentage.
The bottom line is they’re not that different, but with Cutler’s significant edge in experience as a starter, famously nuclear arm and apparently Gase’s trust, the move in this regard makes sense.
The Cutler of five or six years ago could have been trouble with his new teammates.
The more mature and experienced Cutler of today really isn’t a bad guy – he is different but he isn’t the immature kid he once was – and he should be fine.
Plus, Moore knows his place in the league and with the 'Phins and should play nicely with Cutler.
The biggest questions surrounding Cutler are what kind of shape is he in and how soon will he be ready after spending his offseason preparing for the broadcast booth?
Cutler started all 16 games in Chicago once, his first season there in 2009. He missed 11 games last year, five in 2013 and six in 2011. Putting an out-of-shape Cutler on the field is a bad idea.
Don’t be shocked if Moore is still the Dolphins opening day starter until Cutler is ready.
Finally, we now know Cutler didn’t really want to be a broadcaster, he just wanted to be wanted.
According to all my sources, and everything else I’ve read, Cutler had no football options prior to taking the deal with FOX.
That is not a criticism. I totally get it and don’t blame Cutler at all for apparently pretending to be excited about joining the media.
But while the Dolphins job isn’t a bad option, it’s nowhere near perfect, either.
There will be a lot more opportunity for Cutler to fail and be ridiculed in South Beach than there is for success.
Obviously, he would still much rather play football than watch it and talk about it.