Brandt: How to fix this
It is the only solution to a drama that has dominated NFL offseason discussion in a way that rivals last year's soap opera starring Brett Favre.
And it is hardly a coincidence that the situations have a common thread: Bus Cook, who was Favre's agent, also represents Cutler. When Favre reached a point where he no longer could work with Packers general manager Ted Thompson, Cook did his part to pry his unhappy client out of Green Bay and worked out a trade that resulted in the regrettable season that Favre spent with the New York Jets in 2008.
Cook is the same agent who was involved with the acrimonious relationship between yet another quarterback, Steve McNair, and the Tennessee Titans -- so acrimonious that the Titans banned McNair from working out at their facility during the offseason and resulted in his finishing his career with the Baltimore Ravens. And Cook is the same agent who was involved with the battle that wide receiver Randy Moss had with the Oakland Raiders before he wound up with the New England Patriots.
I'm convinced it began after Bowlen fired coach Mike Shanahan and also parted ways with offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. After that, Cutler realized he no longer had anyone who believed in him as the Broncos' starter, who appreciated his gunslinger-style skills and would design a playbook and call plays that would take full advantage of them.
Where will Cutler land?
Here are some teams, listed in alphabetical order, that might be interested in trading for Jay Cutler:
» Chicago Bears: They can't really believe they're solid with Kyle Orton.
» Detroit Lions: They have the top overall pick in the draft, as well as the 20th overall choice, and their starting quarterback job is in the shaky hands of Daunte Culpepper.
» New York Jets: Agent Bus Cook delivered Brett Favre to them last year. Does Cook do it again with Cutler?
» Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They don't have a legitimate starter.
He certainly didn't see McDaniels as that person. Nor should he have. As offensive coordinator of the Patriots, McDaniels ran a scheme that had no room for the type of high-risk passing that is the hallmark of Cutler's game. Cutler and his good friend, Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler (another Cook client), took a close look at the type of offense the Patriots ran under McDaniels.
It didn't take long for them to reach the same conclusion: "This isn't what we do."
McDaniels didn't see Cutler as a good fit, either, which was why he did the logical thing and entertained an overture from the Patriots that would have reunited him with the backup quarterback he helped turn into a star after Tom Brady's season-ending knee injury last year.
McDaniels was hired, in large part, for his offensive vision. He was hired for the ideas that played a role in allowing Brady to have the off-the-charts season he had in 2007 and Cassel to cash in a spectacular season for a minimum payoff of $14.65 million and a starting job with the Kansas City Chiefs.
McDaniels knows exactly the type of quarterback he needs at the controls of his system -- someone who will stay within himself, who will be methodical and precise, who will allow big plays to unfold within the structure of the offense rather than gambling that he can squeeze the ball between defenders or simply throw it to a spot too far down the field for anyone to get to … except his receiver.
The quarterback McDaniels needs is not Cutler and will never be Cutler. And Cutler is every bit as aware of this square-peg-in-a-round-hole dynamic as McDaniels.
Cutler is not looking to find some sort of common ground so that he and McDaniels can work together, because it doesn't exist. He and Cook will do everything they can to apply as much pressure as possible on the 32-year-old, first-year coach until they get what they want -- a one-way ticket out of Denver.
Despite what he might say publicly, McDaniels is going to comply -- but on his terms. Before he boots a quarterback with three years left on his contract out the door, he has to make sure he can bring in one who is right for his program. The Cleveland Browns just might be able to accommodate him; their new coach, Eric Mangini, doesn't seem very keen on keeping Brady Quinn around.
Meanwhile, McDaniels is going to at least try to create the perception that he has everything under control -- that no one, including Cutler or Cook, is going to stand in the way of getting his program off the ground with the offseason workouts that began Monday (without Cutler).
This will only last so long, of course. Cutler seems fully prepared to make the situation as ugly as possible, and we know -- from the experiences with Favre, McNair and Moss -- that is likely to happen. Ultimately, the Broncos will have to pull the trigger on a trade.
It is the only solution.