Bears give two first round picks and Orten
Less than 45 hours after Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen announced Jay Cutler would be traded, the 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback was sent to Chicago. Franchise quarterbacks entering their prime donâ€™t lack aggressive suitors.
The Broncos made what is sure to be one of the most controversial trades in franchise history Thursday, sending Cutler to the Bears. In return, the Broncos get two first-round picks, this yearâ€™s 18th overall selection and a first-rounder in 2010, a third-round pick this year and quarterback Kyle Orton. Denver also included a fifth-round draft pick.
The Broncos had no comment on the trade Thursday, other than offering a short release announcing Cutler had been traded to the Bears. The Broncos said coach Josh McDaniels would have a press conference at 11 a.m. MDT on Friday.
A trade was completed quickly after Bowlen put out word that the team was finished with Cutler after the quarterback didnâ€™t return messages over a 10-day span. However, Cutlerâ€™s departure from the Broncos started in motion more than a month ago.
After McDaniels was hired as coach in January, he said Cutler was very talented and would like being in his offense. But in late February the team tried acquiring quarterback Matt Cassel, who worked under McDaniels in New England, in a trade involving Cutler.
Cutler was upset about the possible trade, then requested a trade in March, and according to Bowlenâ€™s statement Tuesday night, wouldnâ€™t talk to the team in recent days. Still, Cutler expressed surprise and remorse Wednesday night to foxsports.com.
â€œI was surprised they decided to trade me this soon,â€ Cutler told the site. â€œI didnâ€™t want to get traded. This wasnâ€™t me. They (the Broncos) had been going back and forth saying things, wanting me to be their quarterback, and then they didnâ€™t. I really didnâ€™t want this. I love Denver. I really like my teammates. I didnâ€™t want it to get this far.â€
Now, the Broncos have to start over at quarterback. In just 37 starts, Cutler established himself as the teamâ€™s most productive quarterback since John Elway retired. He set a Broncos season record with 4,526 yards in 2008, and also had 25 touchdowns. He is one of only three players in NFL history with three or fewer years of NFL experience to throw for 4,500 yards in a season.
Cutlerâ€™s agent Bus Cook, and Ortonâ€™s agent Mark Humenik did not return messages.
Cutler is going to Chicago, closer to his hometown of Santa Claus, Ind., and he will likely be replaced in Denver by Orton.
Orton could be the starter this year but might not be the long-term answer at quarterback. He is signed through 2009 and isnâ€™t considered an elite quarterback. He played well at times in 2008, throwing for 2,972 yards and 18 touchdowns, which is well short of Cutlerâ€™s output. Denverâ€™s other option at quarterback is Chris Simms, who has 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career.
The Broncos have the 12th overall pick, which is their own, and Chicagoâ€™s 18th overall pick in the draft April 25-26. They could use one of those picks to select a top quarterback prospect such as USCâ€™s Mark Sanchez, and let him sit and learn behind Orton and Simms for a season.
By Frank Schwab / McClatchy Tribune