Cutler, McDaniels speak; QB says he could be traded

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- New Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler talked this week for the first time since their rift became public.

Cutler spoke with McDaniels on Monday in a conference call, but the team would not say what was discussed.

The Denver Post's Web site reported Tuesday night that the call only muddied the waters between McDaniels and Cutler, who left the conversation feeling he would be traded by draft day if the Broncos could find the right deal.

Jay Cutler, QB
Denver Broncos

2008 Statistics:
TD/INT: 25/18
Yards: 4,526
Pass. rating: 86.0

A team official with knowledge of the discussions, however, told The Associated Press that despite what other sources may be saying, the two sides did not grow farther apart in this conversation.

The person, who asked to remain anonymous because no one in the organization was authorized to speak publicly about the talks, said issues were discussed openly and it was re-emphasized that Cutler would not be traded. It was also stated that Cutler needed to meet with McDaniels in person to keep things moving in the right direction.

The Post, citing an anonymous source, said Cutler entered the conference call Monday believing the rift between him and McDaniels that grew out of the Broncos' attempts to trade the quarterback two weeks ago would be resolved. Instead, Cutler was told by McDaniels that no one is untradeable and that the quarterback was expected to report for the team's offseason conditioning program that begins Monday.

The conference call was the first step in what could be a long reconciliation process between the Broncos' new 32-year-old coach and his temperamental quarterback.

"Josh McDaniels and Jay Cutler spoke on a conference call Monday and the Broncos look forward to talking to Jay in the future and certainly face to face," team spokesman Jim Saccomano told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Cutler, who is still in Nashville, Tenn., and his agent, Bus Cook, spoke via conference call with McDaniels, general manager Brian Xanders and team owner Pat Bowlen.

Messages left by The Associated Press with Cook weren't returned Tuesday night. Earlier, he told The AP he doesn't think his client has ever asked the Broncos for a trade and he insisted Cutler was right to be upset with the team because the Broncos even listening to trade offers was "a vote of no-confidence in him."

Last week, the Broncos insisted Cutler wasn't on the trading block and said he and McDaniels would meet in Denver this week to clear the air.

The fissure between the two opened Feb. 28 when Cutler learned that McDaniels had tried to trade him to Tampa Bay in a three-way deal that would have brought quarterback Matt Cassel from New England to Denver. Cassel was eventually traded to AFC West rival Kansas City instead.

McDaniels was the offensive coordinator last year in New England, where he tutored Cassel, a backup since high school who led the Patriots to an 11-5 season after Tom Brady was injured in the opener.

That made McDaniels a hot coaching commodity and Bowlen quickly hired him to replace Mike Shanahan, whom he fired Dec. 30 after 14 seasons, the last three of which ended without a trip to the playoffs.

McDaniels said the Broncos hadn't initiated the calls but only listened to other teams' offers, something Cutler said he didn't believe.

Cutler, who was preparing to learn the intricate Patriots-style offense after working in the West Coast system for his first three years in the NFL, was upset McDaniels even entertained the notion of dealing him to another team. Cutler suggested his relationship with McDaniels was strained.

He also said he felt he was still on the trading block.

Cutler also was angry when Shanahan was fired and had pleaded for his position coach, Jeremy Bates, to keep his job. But when McDaniels was hired, Bates took a job at USC because McDaniels will be calling the plays in Denver.

Cutler, who has three years left on the six-year deal he signed as a rookie, set numerous club records last season, including yards passing in a season (4,526), completions (384) and 300-yard games (eight).

However, Cutler, who has famously compared his arm strength to that of Hall of Famer John Elway, and the Broncos squandered a three-game lead in the AFC West with three weeks to go. They missed the playoffs for a third straight season, costing Shanahan his job after 14 seasons and two Super Bowl titles in Denver.

Cutler is 17-20 with no playoff appearances since replacing Jake Plummer late in the 2006 season.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press