Before quarterback Matt Cassel was traded from the New England Patriots to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Cutler's name came up in a proposed three-way deal that would have brought Cassel to Denver and landed Cutler with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McDaniels was the Patriots' offensive coordinator last season when he helped guide Cassel, a career backup since high school, to an 11-5 record following Tom Brady's season-ending knee injury on opening weekend.
Cutler, the 11th overall pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2006 draft, told The Denver Post he was angry that his name even came up in trade talks and said he still believes he's on the trading block -- something McDaniels denies.
"We don't want to trade Jay. We never did," McDaniels told the newspaper. "He's our quarterback."
Cutler, the face of the franchise, isn't convinced the Broncos still aren't trying to trade him.
"I'm upset. I mean, I'm really shocked at this point," Cutler told The Post. "I could see why they want Cassel. I don't know if they think I can't run the system or I don't have the skills for it. Or if they don't think they can sign me with my next contract. I just don't know what it is. I've heard I'm still on the trading block."
"Because that's a vote of no confidence in the guy," Cook told The Associated Press on Sunday. "I don't care if you're talking about trading him for Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan or Tom Brady. That's a vote of no confidence in him, and that's how Jay sees it, and I would, too.
"I don't know if they were actively seeking to trade Jay, but on the other hand, I don't know that they were turning a deaf ear to potential offers, either."
Even if the Broncos didn't initiate the trade talks, Cook argued that Cutler has every right to be upset.
"What led people to believe that there's a possibility that Jay Cutler could be traded? Somewhere somebody had to give the inclination that he's on the block," Cook said. "Why else would you call? Nobody's going to call the Giants and ask for Eli (Manning). Nobody's calling the Colts asking about Peyton (Manning). Brady? Come on. So, why call Denver and ask about Jay?
"And if they do call, why not say, 'That's not for discussion. What else do you want?'"
A Broncos spokesman told The Associated Press on Sunday that neither McDaniels, newly promoted general manager Brian Xanders nor team owner Pat Bowlen would have anything else to say publicly about the matter.
The organization believed it had adequately addressed the issue by talking to The Post and didn't want to perpetuate the story, team spokesman Patrick Smyth said.
However, it's certain to have long, long legs in this football-crazed state, where John Elway won two Super Bowls in the 1990s and where Cutler raised eyebrows last season by comparing his arm strength to that of Elway in his prime.
Cutler's status with the Broncos, not the free-agency signing of seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, was all anybody wanted to debate on Denver sports talk radio Sunday. Some blamed the 25-year-old Cutler's immaturity for the controversy, while others pinned the blame on McDaniels' naivete for not realizing his talented, young quarterback would react the way he did.
Cutler, who has three years left on the six-year contract he signed as a rookie, is by far the best player McDaniels inherited from former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, who had built a terrific young offense around the quarterback even while neglecting a defense that more than anything probably led to his firing.
Cutler told The Post he believes his relationship with McDaniels has "taken a few steps backward."
"I don't know if the relationship is irreconcilably broken," Cook said. "But I know that as much as he's meant to the organization and that ballclub, if there were attempts to trade him, then I think Jay Cutler is 100 percent right to be more than just a little bit miffed."
Cutler is 17-20 with no playoff appearances since supplanting Jake Plummer as Denver's quarterback late in the 2006 season, and he's known for his petulant, moody personality in his dealings with teammates and the media.
"There's an awful lot of smoke for there not to be a fire," Cook said. "If they were in fact trying to trade Jay Cutler, then I think that's a situation that's going to cause a very serious problem for the organization.
"If they weren't, maybe he forgives and forgets. But if they were, that's going to be a very difficult situation to repair."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press