There is no shortage of people in the NFL who have soured on Jay Cutler. Bruce Arians is not one of those people.
The Cardinals coach, who is currently going into a pretty huge season in terms of his team’s window to win the Super Bowl, has often talked about his appreciation for what Cutler does on the field as well as Cutler’s athletic skills.
“Cutler is a passionate guy that wanted to win, you know,” Arians said last September. “I think he gets misunderstood a lot. We spent a good hour together, and I was very, very impressed with him.
“Sometimes when you care a lot, your body can give different signals. Each person’s different. The guy obviously cares about winning.”
So it’s not insane to think about the Cardinals as a potential landing spot for Cutler if the Bears end up moving on from him. Peter King of The MMQB did just that Monday, pointing out that there’s a way to have the Cardinals and Cutler blend together.
Name the counter-culture coach who likes to take shots on guys hated by lots of down-the-middle coaches and GMs, who is the biggest proponent of the deep ball of any coach in football, and who may need said deep ball thrower because his quarterback turns 38 this year. I think I just made a Bruce Arians-Jay Cutler marriage—and Arizona can wait till the Bears cut him and sign Cutler for two years and incentives. This doesn’t mean Arizona won’t aggressively scout college kids though.
The biggest obstacle is the Cardinals current quarterback, Carson Palmer. Palmer is getting older -- as King noted, he turns 38 this year -- and thought about retirement during the offseason. It stands to reason Palmer, who has been beaten up pretty good in his career, is going to walk away after this season.
GM Steve Keim and Arians are smart guys. They know they need a plan in place if Palmer leaves and that plan can’t just come together haphazardly over the course of next offseason. There’s too much risk involved from that angle.
If the Bears release Cutler, you go tell him you want him in for multiple years but he’s going to have to be the backup/injury insurance in a two-headed monster of a quarterback situation. He signs on to a winning team and can spend 2017 learning Arians’ system and getting ready for the chance of a Palmer injury or retirement.
Having Palmer and Cutler on the roster at the same time would be pretty unorthodox, and it might require some smart salary-cap room (plus the release of Drew Stanton, who has a $4 million cap hit and $2 million in dead cap if cut), but it would put the Cardinals in a position where they could win even if Palmer was injured.
Keim has talked about Arizona being “aggressive” during free agency. This would absolutely meet that mark. It might ultimately not work because of asset allocation. It might not work because the Bears hold onto Cutler. It might not work because Cutler wants to play right now. But it’s at least a different approach to a problem that all too often vexes even the best NFL organizations.