With all of the threads regarding the Jay Cutler - Broncos feud, and the venomous responses fellow Broncos fans are flinging at each other, this is obviously an extremely sensitive subject. I propose we remove the emotion and look at it objectively; it makes no sense to continue to discuss who's fault it is, whether McDaniels or Cutler, or how the Broncos got in this position. They are in this position regardless of how they got there, which we'll likely never know, and if we continue to debate who's to blame we might as well go back to whether we should have invaded Iraq or not while we're at it - it's a moot point, so let's move on. Besides, in my experience there are always two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in-between.
Before I go there, though, I want to let you know that I'm a big fan of Jay Cutler and am not making the argument to trade him. But, things are broken and - from a leadership/management perspective - I'm not sure they can be fixed.
What do we know:
- Cutler and Mike Shanahan had a great relationship. Cutler was vocal about his displeasure when Shanahan was fired.
- Cutler was even more upset when the Broncos let Jeremy Bates go, with some reports surfacing that he wanted to be traded.
- McDaniels and Xanders entertained a trade for Matt Cassel, whether they initiated it or not. The word got out (another problem) and they made no public statement other than they had no statement (yet another problem).
- McDaniels/Xanders/Bowlen waited for over a week to make public statements about the issue, which then simmered and eventually boiled-over.
- Jay Cutler has made the majority of his statements publicly, while the Broncos have been keeping the majority of their statements private.
- Jay Cutler has a relatively small contract for a Pro Bowl quarterback and Pat Bowlen does not usually revise contracts with players that still have 3 years to go; this delays a big pay-day that he suspects is coming his way (as is the norm for Pro Bowl QBs).
- Bus Cook has been involved in this type of controversy before - bitter, public splits between his client and the team.
- After the actual meeting, Cutler - very publicly - asked for a trade, refused to go to the work-outs, and has since made statements that he won't go to any "unofficial" practices.
What we don't know (is largely moot, and about which everyone is speculating):
- Does McDaniels want to get rid of Cutler because he's not a "system" QB?
- What happened between Jay Cutler/Bus Cook and McDaniels/Xanders/Bowlen the first week of the "scandal"? Was contact initiated by the Broncos that was ignored by Cutler/Cook?
- Was McDaniels insulting, arrogant and over-controlling during the conference call (where he reportedly told Jay that no one was un-tradable) or during the actual meeting (where he reportedly told Jay about his flaws and how he expected them to be fixed for Jay to fit better in his offensive plan)?
- Is Bus Cook instigating the whole thing? Is he trying for the big payday? Is he taking advantage of the huge changes going on in the Broncos' front office? Who's to say, but it would make some sense if he was the source behind the leaks of the initial 3-way trades. It makes even more sense if you're a big conspiracy-theory guy.
- Is Jay Cutler playing this card to get more money? It is unlikely he could get more from the Broncos now with 3 years still remaining on his contract. Could this be the reason for the trade?
- Will Cutler hold-out?
Taking away the unknowns and focusing on the "knowns", I think that the Broncos, as an organization, have painted themselves into a corner. A new head coach and GM will lose, at least from their perspective, a significant amount of authority if they kowtow themselves to one player. I'm sure they would be concerned about opening the door to Pandora's box if they did. Furthermore, if Bowlen opens the pocket book now to a player with 3 years remaining under contract - when it's been his policy not to do so - where will it end (again, from his perspective)? Finally, has Jay Cutler made this such a big issue that the team will be fractured even if he returns? Do the Broncos want to worry that this problem will keep popping up for the rest of the season?
So, attempting to look at this objectively, would it be better for the Broncos as an organization - as a TEAM - to trade Cutler for all they can in order to get rid of the controversy and move on? I really am afraid that it just may be.