The old saying goes something like, once you’ve started to think about retirement, you’ve already retired.
Jay Cutler is back in the NFL. He agreed, after some reported convincing from Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase, to give up a good gig as an analyst at Fox and replace Ryan Tannehill. It’s for one-year and $10 million, with a possible $3 million more in incentives according to NFL.com. That contract tells us Cutler will be the starter and the Dolphins aren’t planning on having Tannehill back anytime soon (and probably not at all this season) due to his knee issues.
The positive with Cutler to the Dolphins is his reunion with Gase. Cutler, amazingly enough, had just one season in his first 11 NFL seasons with a passer rating better than 90. That came in 2015, with Gase as his offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears. Gase was able to rein in Cutler a bit, changing his free-wheeling ways to post a 2.3 percent interception rate, the second-best of Cutler’s career. Cutler knows Gase’s offense, so the transition should be fairly seamless.
But Cutler is a bit of a wild card now. He’s 34. He has spent most of the offseason figuring he’d be in the broadcast booth, and it’s unclear what kind of shape he’s in. Last season was a nightmare for Cutler, with just five games played due to injury, with four touchdowns and five interceptions. The last time Cutler played all 16 games in a season? 2009. Dolphins backup Matt Moore better not relax too much.
On paper this made sense. The Dolphins were scrambling after presumably losing Tannehill for at least a large part of the season, and other starting-level free-agent quarterbacks haven’t spent a season in Gase’s offense (yes, this is referring to Colin Kaepernick). There aren’t many quarterbacks who are free agents, are still considered capable NFL starters and know a coach’s specific offense, and Cutler checked all three boxes. Miami was fortunate that way.
But we don’t know what Cutler has left. Can he just turn on and off the retirement switch? We’re about to find out.
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