The Miami Dolphins have a potentially big problem on their hands before the 2017 preseason even begins. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a left knee injury during practice Thursday on the same leg that was injured late in the 2016 season. Tannehill did not have surgery to repair the knee and was wearing a brace during practice.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reportedly late Thursday night that the Dolphins fear the worst: that Tannehill will require season-ending knee surgery. The news comes after initial reports Thursday afternoon that an initial MRI turned up no structural damage.

Because Tannehill already had a lingering knee injury from last season, people immediately began speculating about the possibility of Colin Kaepernick serving as a replacement for Tannehill in Miami, but it might make more sense to look in the direction of Jay Cutler instead, assuming, of course, the injury to Tannehill is severe enough that the Dolphins are required to sign a starter-level quarterback.

Why? Glad you asked instead of going to the comment section and yelling about politics. 

The Gase connection

This is the most obvious reason: Dolphins coach Adam Gase has a history working with Cutler. Gase was the offensive coordinator with the Bears in 2015 and while Chicago didn't produce massive stats (bottom half of the league in both yards and points scored), it is not hard to argue his lone season under Gase was Cutler's most productive and efficient year. 

In 15 games, Cutler completed 64.4 percent of his passes and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. He threw for 3,659 yards, 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Nitpick however you want about the various statistics for each season, but it's not a stretch to say Cutler played his best Bears football at the age of 32 under Gase.

Would Cutler leave his Fox Sports job to come out of retirement for the Dolphins? It certainly sounds like it. Per ESPN's Jeff Darlington:

Cutler probably would have stuck around football for another year had there been more offers, but the Jets were the only team that expressed mild interest in him. And Cutler mentioned on an ESPN podcast with Schefter that he wouldn't come back later in the year because he wouldn't know the system a random team was running.

"If it's in December, I'm probably not in shape to play football anyway. Quarterback just isn't one of those positions that you jump in to play," Cutler said earlier this offseason. "To say, hey, we're going to sign you on Monday, we need you to play on Sunday as a quarterback, that's so challenging. I think Tony [Romo]'s situation, with possibly leaving the door open for Dallas, if that's what he's doing, is a little more realistic, because he knows the system, he knows the guys, he's comfortable in the building."

Cutler might not be comfortable in the building in Miami, but it is only August and he does know the system, having previously worked with Gase. The transition would be fairly minimal. (Fox, by the way, put Cutler in a three-man booth, which could potentially insulate them if he decided to bail on retirement.)

Indeed, there are already reports about Cutler being the choice over Kaepernick. Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel speculated Cutler could make sense, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported the Dolphins might actually prefer Cutler to Kaepernick.

Just look at what Gase said about Cutler this offseason (good find by noted Cutler stalker and CBS colleague Sean Wagner-McGough) when asked if he had spoken to Cutler and if he would consider Cutler in Miami.

"I had a very brief text message exchange with him [this offseason] just saying that if he needs anything to holler at me," Gase said. "I guess it was more if you're going somewhere and you need to know about it -- any organization or coaching staff -- just holler at me and I'll give you what I know. I've never brought up anything about coming with us [to Miami] because I like our situation. I love Jay, but I do like the situation we've got going on right now at our place."

The "our situation" part is critical. If Tannehill is seriously injured, that situation changes completely. 

Kaepernick's Castro stance lingers

There have been instances so far this offseason where Kaepernick's off-field actions potentially cost him a job. The Ravens are currently debating signing him, but want to run it by fans and sponsors and Ray Lewis first, because apparently they have no idea how to do anything with a semblance of tact.

Also lacking tact was Kaepernick's decision to speak in a positive fashion about former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro before the 49ers played last season in Miami. Kaepernick praised the "literacy rate" in Cuba under Castro, which did not sit well with some people in South Florida, many of whom are of Cuban descent. 

"Because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here even though we're fully capable of doing that," Kaepernick said, when asked about Cuba. 

One such person includes Dolphins linebacker Kiki Alonso, who admitted Kaepernick's comments led to "bad blood" and him aggressively pursuing a hit on Kaepernick during the game.

"You two [Alonso's father and the Salguero of the Herald] saw what happened in Cuba first-hand," Alonso said after the game. "I didn't. But I do have feelings about it. So there was some bad blood there for me with Kaepernick."

Kaepernick's comments led to the Salguero penning a column titled "Unrepentant hypocrite Colin Kaepernick defends Fidel Castro." 

After the game Kaepernick pointed out that he was not in fact supporting Castro, but merely remarking about the positive nature of investing in education.

"Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things he [Castro] did is just not true," Kaepernick said via USA Today. "I said I support the investment in education, I never said I support the oppressive things he did."

Say whatever you want about Kap simply wearing a Castro t-shirt; his decision did not sit well with some people in Miami. That will make it more difficult for the Dolphins to sign him. 

Coupled with the Cutler connection to Gase and it should not be surprising if the Dolphins ultimately go in the Cutler direction, should they require a new starting quarterback after Tannehill's injury.