Cutler goes to Bears for Orton, picks
The Chicago Bears acquired disgruntled Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade on Thursday afternoon, giving up quarterback Kyle Orton and first-round picks in 2009 (18th overall) and 2010, along with a third-round pick (84th overall) in 2009 to do it.
To complete the trade, the Broncos had to give back a fifth-round pick (140th overall) in 2009. That pick was acquired by the Broncos from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade for wide receiver Keary Colbert.
The Bears beat out the Redskins, Buccaneers, Lions, Titans and other teams to land the 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback. The Broncos had made it clear they were asking for at least two first-round choices.
Cutler had asked to be traded when he found out first-year Denver coach Josh McDaniels tried to acquire Matt Cassel in a trade with the Patriots.
"I don't have any concerns," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "[Coach Lovie Smith] and I talked about that. We did, like a lot of people who were interested in Jay, a lot of work going back to not just when he was with Denver [but] but going back to his days at Vanderbilt."
Angelo said area scout Rex Hogan lives in the Nashville area and developed a "great rapport" with Cutler coming out of Vanderbilt in 2006.
"We felt that [Cutler] is a very good person, a good leader," Angelo said. "He had some things that happened in Denver. We recognized those, but we treated them as just speed bumps, part of the growing process. He's highly competitive, he's highly emotional. That just comes with the territory."
Although Cutler is 17-20 as a starter, he's been victimized by dismal defenses in Denver, and he was an impressive 13-1 when the Broncos held opponents to 21 points or fewer.
Last year, Cutler threw for a franchise record 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. In his 37-game career in Denver, he completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 9,024 yards, 54 TDs and 37 interceptions.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, upon hearing that Cutler was now his teammate, was stunned by the news.
"I guess the Bears felt like we needed another quarterback, so they made a move," Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. "They gave up a lot. Cutler must be pretty good."
"I guess we got better as a team," Urlacher added, according to the newspaper. "You get a quarterback who is a Pro Bowl guy. But I will say this: I think Kyle Orton is a good quarterback. He's a great teammate. I hope he does really well in Denver."
Cutler is scheduled to travel to Chicago, where he must pass a physical exam before the trade becomes official. He could not be immediately reached for comment. But Bus Cook, Cutler's agent, told ESPN that Cutler is pleased that the team he followed while growing up in northern Indiana had acquired him.
"I know Jay's choices would have been Chicago and Tennessee simply because that's where he grew up and went to school,'' Cook said. "It's unfortunate from one standpoint, but once it got to the point where a trade had to happen, it couldn't have turned out better for Jay, and I think the Broncos got a great compensation package for him.''
Cook said the Bears have not made Cutler any promises about renegotiating his contract. "That wasn't what this was about,'' Cook said. "This was not about a new deal. It was never mentioned to Denver, never suggested, and that wasn't part of this. It was a matter of some personalities that weren't going to get along too well. It was not about a new contract.''
On Tuesday, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen released a statement saying both he and McDaniels had been unable to get Cutler to call them back during the past 10 days. Cutler also had been staying away from the offseason program.
As a result, the Broncos decided to trade Cutler, whom they were convinced "no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."
According to NFL senior analyst Chris Mortensen, however, Cutler replied, "No," in a text message when asked whether Bowlen had directly tried to contact him.
Cook said the Broncos first got in touch with him on Tuesday.
"The perception that they've been burning the phone lines the last 10 days is wrong," Cook said. "In fact, the other day, I asked Jay if he had heard from them and he said, 'No.' I didn't hear from them until yesterday [Tuesday] morning when [GM] Brian Xanders called me and said that Mr. Bowlen needs to speak with Jay now. I told him all I can do is leave Jay a message.
"I didn't reach Jay directly -- I don't know what he was doing -- but I left a message. Then Brian called at the end of the day and asked me if I had heard from him. I hadn't. I heard from Jay when he called to tell me he just saw on TV he was being traded. They can spin it the way they want to spin it."
Urlacher, for his part, does not view Cutler as an incoming troublemaker.
"I would be ticked off, too, if someone was trying to trade me and didn't tell me about it," he told the Tribune. "I don't think Jay is going to be an issue. We have a pretty good locker room, so I'm not worried about that. [Linebacker] Hunter [Hillenmeyer] knows him. And [Cutler] seems like a pretty good guy. I've never met him but I've heard good things about him. I'm not worried about him fitting in."
At first, McDaniels had faith he could repair the strained relationship with his temperamental quarterback -- if only he could get him to call him back. On Tuesday, he became convinced that just wasn't going to happen.
Cutler is halfway through the six-year, $48 million contract he signed as the 11th overall pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2006 draft.
It won't be long, however, before Cutler returns to Denver: The Broncos are scheduled to host the Bears in a preseason game on Aug. 30 in Denver.
"We just expect another football game," Broncos tight end Daniel Graham said of that game on Thursday night, according to The Denver Post. "We're going out there with the Broncos helmet as a team, and everybody is going out to look for a win."
John Elway, the quarterback Denver fans had hoped Cutler would emulate, said it was "too bad" the Broncos and Cutler couldn't fix their relationship, according to the newspaper.
Elway recalled that twice in his career, he was at the center of trade firestorms. The first was in 1983, when he was drafted by the then-Baltimore Colts and forced a trade to Denver. The second came in 1991, when Broncos coach Dan Reeves discussed trading Elway with Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. Elway said he found out about those talks and was upset, according to the report.
"I was very hurt, so I can understand what Jay was feeling. It's a trust issue," Elway said, according to the Post. "After some time, I had to get over it and move on. Although you don't forget, you realize this is a business.
"Jay couldn't get past it."
Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder was used in this report.