That's being way too generous -- to Cutler.
Cutler can threaten to stay away from the Denver Broncos' non-mandatory offseason conditioning program, which begins Monday. He can even skip their first mandatory minicamp, which begins April 17.
While he's at it, he can hold his breath and stomp his feet, too.
According to multiple NFL sources with knowledge of the situation, no amount of protesting is going to make McDaniels regret his decision to attempt to trade Cutler two weeks ago as part of a deal that would have brought Matt Cassel -- whom McDaniels helped mold into a highly-effective starter last season when they were with the New England Patriots -- to Denver.
Nor, the sources say, will it prompt the Broncos' new coach to seek to patch things up with Cutler, who is still smoldering about being the subject of trade talk.
"You will not see (McDaniels) flinch," one league source said. "I guarantee you this: He's in control of that situation. If this is a story about who is running that team, the last person in the world I'm going to alienate is a new coach in the first year of a four-year, multimillion-dollar deal.
"Last year, as an offensive coordinator in New England, he lost maybe the greatest quarterback in football (Tom Brady, to a season-ending knee injury). Then he turned a backup who hadn't started a game since high school into one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Josh is not frightened to go to the bench, if he has to."
There have been varying reports about what was supposed to have been a clear-the-air conference call earlier in the week between Cutler and his agent, Bus Cook, and the Broncos hierarchy of owner Pat Bowlen, chief operating officer Joe Ellis, general manager Brian Xanders and McDaniels. One source said, as far as the Broncos were concerned, the call went well because they were satisfied they had established to Cutler and his agent that he was no longer on the trading block. They pointed out the potential trade with the Patriots was something they did not seek; it came to them. And after Cassel was shipped to Kansas City, any trade discussion involving Cutler was over.
According to the source, although Cutler could very well be the Broncos' quarterback in 2009, he should not plan on getting such a commitment because McDaniels has no intention of giving it to him.
A Cutler trade could very well happen between now and April's draft, the source said. One league insider said to keep an eye on the Detroit Lions, who are looking to deal the top overall pick (where quarterback Georgia's Matthew Stafford could be selected). Another said to keep an eye on the Cleveland Browns, because they might very well be interested in a deal that would involve swapping Brady Quinn for Cutler. Like Cassel, Quinn is well-schooled in McDaniels' offense. He ran it while playing at Notre Dame for Charlie Weis, whom McDaniels succeeded as offensive coordinator of the Patriots.
Cutler won't be doing himself any favors if he allows his anger to get in the way of fully preparing to continue as the Broncos' starting quarterback. For one thing, it won't help his relationship with McDaniels. For another, if he skips offseason work, he will severely damage his ability to learn a new offensive scheme that is far different from the one he has known since joining the Broncos as a first-round draft pick in 2006.
The fact Bowlen had no problem parting ways with his previous coach, Mike Shanahan, should have been Cutler's first clue that he does not wield nearly as much power as he might think he does. Cutler, who became a prolific Pro Bowl passer under Shanahan, made it known that he didn't agree with the firing. Still, Bowlen wanted Shanahan out so much that he was willing to eat the remaining $20 million of his contract.
"If you can fire a Mike Shanahan, you can trade a kid like that," an NFL source said. "Everyone is disposable in this league. And (Cutler's) a guy who hasn't proven a thing yet. He's had some great statistics, but he hasn't won a thing yet.
"It's well known that Cutler is a highly sensitized person, but what are we really talking about here? A guy's feelings got hurt? In my mind, this is so much ado about nothing. The smartest thing Cutler can do is just shut up."