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Broncos can come out of this OK in the end

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Posted April 01, 2009 @ midnight
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:26 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

First, allow me to clear the plate of a few Jay Cutler-related thoughts. In my opinion, if there's a guy who has handled this situation poorly, it's Cutler. Without having sat in on his meetings -- or text-message sessions, for that matter -- with the team, I can say that the public face he has put forward has not been a good one. In the end, it won't matter much, as some team will lunge to land a potential franchise QB, but I am guessing that at least one club that honors and respects selflessness and values true character will drop out of or not enter the Cutler sweepstakes.

Broncos QB Jay CutlerHe has made himself look like a boob. If you're unhappy, fine. Voice your opinion. Ask to be traded. But do so in a private, self-effacing and diplomatic fashion. Don't come off as a whiny, thin-skinned brat. And I know of one team at least who feels this way about him, sitting back and laughing (or head-shaking) at his handling of the situation. His rocket arm and QB skills will trump all this for a needy team, but the wise ones are sure to question Cutler's leadership skills when he was babied by the previous regime and after he has acted personally affronted by his new coach's lack of butt-smooching skills.

Sorry, kid, but you haven't won me over a bit of late. OK, now that we have swabbed the deck of that one ...

I don't want to say that Josh McDaniels has come off as sterling in his handling of this, either, for the record. As a first-time head coach, and a young one at that, he certainly would have handled things differently from the start had he known the mess he was due to face. But that said, I place about 15 percent of this blame on him and about 85 on the Cutler-Bus Cook braintrust. (Interesting side note: Cook represented Brett Favre, proud owner of the last QB soap opera of this magnitude ... hmm. Makes you think a bit.)

That said, I believe now the Broncos can sit back and let the offers roll in. Their leverage, I don't believe, has been hurt a ton by the public bandying, simply because good quarterbacks are at a premium and someone will be willing to pay a nice price for Cutler's abilities. I don't think the Broncos will hit the jackpot, per se, but they should be able to fetch a nice combination of draft picks and/or players.

Let's face it: McDaniels never seemed all that infatuated with Cutler from the get-go. Had he been, this all would have been avoided. The fact that he inquired about Matt Cassel is a pretty telling thing. My conspiracy theory is that when the Patriots faced the Broncos last season, McDaniels' former mentor, Bill Belichick, must have pointed out some serious shortcomings in the young QB's game. And the results of that contest -- a 41-7 Pats win and a shaky game from Cutler -- tell me that Bill might have been onto something.

Broncos QB Jay CutlerOr maybe McD just didn't like that whiny, hangdog expression Cutler seems to wear around most of the time. (Please look again at both the photos if you don't believe me.) Whatever it is, this divorce is about to become final, and I think the Broncos can come out of this whole mess just fine without him.

Maybe their rash of veteran defensive signings was a bit confusing to me considering they didn't look like a contender on paper, and trading Cutler could mean a big step back in the first year. And clearly, we need to see what quarterback they come out of this with. It could be a veteran such as Jason Campbell or Brady Quinn, or it could be a young guy from this draft such as Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez. Until then, it's hard to make a full judgment on how they'll fare.

But the good news is that McDaniels, whose specialty is working with quarterbacks, can get his guy. The one he wants to build his team around. No more awkward shoehorning with a guy in Cutler he probably liked but never would love. No more delaying the inevitable trading of Cutler in a year or two -- this thing is going to happen now, and the Broncos can move on quickly and expeditiously.

It's the best do-over to McDaniels' career in Denver that I can think of. 

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