Jay Cutler-QB-Trade 2009:Regarding franchise quarterbacks, defensive ends and left tackles, the old adage is that teams usually can only get one at the very top of the draft, and once they do get one, they never part with him. Thus the NFL world looked on in wonderment in early 2009 when a battle began brewing in Denver between incumbent Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler and new head coach Josh McDaniels. Cutler had caught wind that McDaniels preferred a more conservative signal caller, and tried to engineer a trade that would have sent cutler off in order for the Broncos to acquire Patriot backup quarterback Matt Cassel. Once Cutler learned of the deal that never was, he felt disrespected and vowed that he would not play for McDaniels. The rest of the league and its fans scoffed at the possibility-teams just do NOT trade Pro Bowl quarterbacks, especially those that are only entering their fourth season.
Cutler was roundly viewed as sometimes disruptive and not universally well-liked, but he possessed rare skills for a quarterback with his feet and shotgun-strong arm. And despite the fact that he played with a rare disability for an athlete, type-2 diabetes, he was extremely durable, starting all 37 games in which he played from 2006-2008. As weeks of the dispute went on, it became increasingly clear that Denver would indeed entertain trade offers from other teams, which would make the transaction almost unprecedented since the Bears sent Bobby Layne packing in 1949. Even when it was clear, and confirmed by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen that the Broncos were officially going to trade Cutler, most veteran Bears observers thought it would be impossible for the Bears to wind up with the player. While it was true that the Bears had failed to secure a durable franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman in the 1940′s, this just wasn’t the kind of sweepstakes the Bears organization normally got involved in. Historically speaking, the Bears made cautious moves and focused on building their team carefully over the long run.
But on April 2, 2009, late in the afternoon, Bears nation was estatically shocked to learn that Jerry Angelo did indeed pull the trigger on the boldest move of his career when he traded for Cutler. The deal sent Chicago’s first and third-round draft picks in 2009, their first-round pick in 2010, and Bears quarterback Kyle Orton to the Broncos for Cutler and Denver’s 2009 fifth-round pick. Word had it that the Washington Redskins were also in the Cutler derby, but Denver preferred Orton to Washington’s Jason Campbell. So starting in 2009, the Bears had their first young, durable, top-tier NFL quarterback since Luckman.
While there are still some, our guess is those not in Chicago, that still don’t believe that Cutler is a top-tier quarterback. In 2009 he threw more interceptions than touchdowns with questionable receivers and a leaky defense. In 2010 and 2011 he blossomed (until sidelined by an injury late in 2011), but was still hamstrung by offensive coordinator Mike Martz’ schemes. His fans believe that under a more balanced offense in 2012 he will thrive. Regardless, the Cutler trade was Jerry Angelo’s top non-draft acquisition in Angelo’s tenure with the Bears.