Jay Cutler is fully invested into his burgeoning career as a broadcaster for Fox, but that doesn’t mean returning to the NFL wasn’t a strong possibility as recently as a few months ago.
Cutler joined ESPN’s Adam Schefter for a podcast this week and indicated that prior to Fox’s offer, he had an NFL team calling about his services in free agency. The New York Jets had reached out after the Chicago Bears cut ties with Cutler in early March. It made sense because the Jets needed help at the position, and Cutler’s former QB coach and close friend, Jeremy Bates, is the Jets’ QB coach.
The problem? The two sides couldn’t figure out a time to meet. Seems a bit odd, but then again Cutler has tended to march to his own beat in the NFL for as long as we’ve known.
“I didn’t take a visit. They wanted me to come out,” Cutler said. “As soon as the Bears released me we were talking to them about flying out really that next Friday [March 10, presumably]. I kind of balked at that.”
Cutler said he didn’t want to “jump into” anything too fast. Certainly understandable on the one hand, but with the start of free agency having kicked off a few days prior, the league was amid one of its busiest and most hectic times of year. Things can change in a flash, and so it really changed the landscape quickly for both the Jets and Cutler when he wanted time to weigh his options.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to play football. All I knew was I wanted to do was digest [things] and work through that,” he said.
Both sides did not give up, trying to schedule something for the following week. But a few coaches were going to be gone at college pro days, and the team doctor was not going to be there for a time that worked for Cutler, who had just come off shoulder surgery and needed to be examined before the Jets potentially offered a contract.
Or maybe his wife, Kristin Cavallari, asked for some help getting ready to list their massive Chicago house on the market.
So what happened? The Jets felt the need to go with Plan B, Josh McCown, Cutler’s former backup in Chicago. McCown apparently had time to visit where it worked out for both him and the team.
“The stars didn’t really align for me to get out there,” Cutler said. “By the time I was scheduled to get out there, my buddy Josh had taken a visit and they worked something out with him. It all worked out. I’m happy for him.”
Perhaps Cutler is happy with his decision now, especially in light of their recent transaction, letting linebacker David Harris go, and appearing to bid adieu to wide receiver Eric Decker. All told, the Jets have shed a lot of skin this offseason — including Cutler’s former Bears teammate, Brandon Marshall, who was released the week prior to Cutler hitting the market.
Cutler earlier had given a hilariously Cutler-esque answer on the podcast when asked if he was officially retired.
“I am but … is there actual paperwork? Someone said there was, but I called the [NFL]PA and they acted like it didn’t exist,” Cutler said. “They said, ‘You just report all this stuff … ‘ So there’s actual paperwork? Someone send it to me because I need it.”
Maybe the Jets and Cutler could have been a great match, but it appears he has moved on and doesn’t regret the missed connection. Besides, it might have been a one-year experiment anyway, and Cutler’s seeming ambivalence toward playing comes through in his words. That and the Jets’ recent moves suggest they’re gunning to earn the first pick in the 2018 NFL draft at this rate.
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