Jay Cutler has been a starting quarterback in the NFL for eleven seasons, spending time with the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. On March 9th, the Bears cut Cutler, leaving the veteran signal caller looking for work with a few QB hungry teams on the market. He talked with the New York Jets and Houston Texans, be he received no offers. The 34-year old has decent career numbers: 32,467 yards passing, 208 touchdowns to 146 interceptions and an 85.7 career passer rating. His win-loss record is on the bad side at 68-71, but it’s not horrible. Yet he received no offer.
Well, that’s not exactly true. He did get one offer, but not from an NFL team. Television was calling. Cutler announced today that he will be joining Fox as a color commentator for games along side Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis. In his statement, Cutler said:
Words can’t express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me along my journey. I started playing tackle football at the age of 10 and was so lucky to have supportive parents and great coaches along the way that made my path possible. If I listed each person individually, this would quickly turn into an essay, but you know who you are and I wouldn’t be in this situation without you. So thank you.
To my parents, my sisters, my wife and kids — thank you for putting your wants and needs on the back burner while I played a game every Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You made it all possible.
I recently read a quote that struck a cord with me at the time. It was attributed to Henry Rollins (but with the Internet these days, you can never be too sure). ‘I did that, I gave everything I had to give to that. Now, if I returned to that it would be repetition — it might be fun repetition, but it wouldn’t be meaningful repetition.’ Thank you to everyone along the way. You made my dream come true.
While that sounds like a retirement speech, Cutler told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington:
I don’t know if retirement is the right word; I don’t feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL. You are either forced to leave, or you lose the desire to do what’s required to keep going. I’m in between those situations at this point in my life.
A few years back, former quarterback Brady Quinn joined Fox as a commentator. In his contract there was a clause that would allow him to leave if an NFL team wanted to sign him. Quinn then left Fox and participated in the Miami Dolphins training camp. He would later return to Fox. It’s not known if Cutler has a clause like that in his contract, but Cutler’s best chance to make a team is if a starting quarterback on a playoff contending team goes down and their back-up isn’t up to taking them the rest of the way.
The Cutler, Burkhardt and Davis team is not common. Most telecasts use a two-man team. But a three man team has been used in the past to get a new member up to speed. It would also be a good safety net in case one of the members of the team leaves suddenly.
Unlike Tony Romo who had two teams interested in him when he decided to retire and join CBS instead, Cutler is a quarterback without a home looking for a back-up plan.
That’s not to say Cutler won’t be good in the booth. Listening to the NFL Network this afternoon, former NFL Executive Pat Kirwain talked about Cutler and how he had a chance to sit down with the quarterback a while ago and have a good, engaging conversation. Cutler isn’t known for being overly talkative with the media leaving some puzzled by his move to broadcasting. But Kirwain assured his listeners that a relaxed Jay Cutler is very personable and engaging and will do a good job in the booth once he gets settled in.
One way or another, you will like see Jay Cutler on your TV screen this fall.