“I’m not really looking to do a lot of work right now,” Cutler said when asked of his post-football plans (via Andrew Gruttadaro of The Ringer). “I’m looking to do the exact opposite of that.”
After earning a fortune in the NFL and looking less-than-stellar with the Dolphins last year, we’re inclined to believe Cutler when he says he’s probably done with football. Still, you can expect his name to pop up if a starting quarterback suffers a serious injury in training camp.
Here’s more from the AFC East:
Things could go any number of ways for Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason, Brian Costello of the New York Post writes. If Bridgewater outperforms Josh McCown and Sam Darnold, Costello believes the team will not hesitate to hand him the starting job. However, if Bridgewater and McCown both play well and the Jets trust Darnold to be the No. 2 QB, Bridgewater could wind up on the trading block. If a starting QB gets hurt and that team is without a reliable No. 2 QB, they would probably consider someone like Bridgewater instead of the Cutlers of the world.
As Freeman notes, NFL clubs have long been enticed by Cutler’s physical talent, especially his proficiency at the act of merely throwing the football. But his recent production has been anything but impressive: last season, he finished 25th in adjusted net yards per attempt, 28th in Total QBR, and 35th among 39 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus‘ quarterback grades while starting 14 games for the Dolphins.
Realistically, it’s difficult to see Cutler landing anything other than a strict backup position, and that opportunity may not come unless a quarterback suffers an injury during training camp or the preseason. At that point, Cutler’s salary demands could also come into play, as he’s certainly not going to earn the $10MM he raked in with Miami in 2017. With a dozen-year pro career in the books, Cutler doesn’t necessarily need the cash, and could simply seek the best fit if he decides to search for a new team.
Speculatively, teams that could use an extra quarterback include the Panthers, Raiders, Rams, Cowboys, and Seahawks. Carolina, specifically, has little to no experienced options behind starter Cam Newton, as none of Garrett Gilbert, Taylor Heinicke, and Kyle Allen have never started an NFL contest. Dallas, too, would be in dire straits if Dak Prescott goes down, as 2017 undrafted free agent Cooper Rush is next on the club’s depth chart.
If Cutler does officially hang up his cleats, he could pursue another avenue within the NFL by taking on a broadcasting role, something he was slated do in 2017 before the Dolphins came calling. He’d already announced his retirement last May and had signed on to join FOX’s NFL team, where he was to enter a three-man booth alongside play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt and fellow color commentator Charles Davis.
Appearing in a clip for his wife’s television show, free agent quarterback Jay Cutler says that while he’s not 100% ready to hang up his cleats, he’s “probably” retired from the NFL, but allowed that he won’t know for sure until games begin in September.
Cutler, who turned 35 years old in April, has seemingly vacillated on the prospect of continuing his career, as he originally stated in December that he’d like to find another NFL job for 2018. More recently, however, reports emerged that Cutler was expected to retire in order to begin a reality TV show — indeed, the one linked above — with his wife.
With plenty of money in the bank following a 12-year pro career, Cutler doesn’t need another salary. And realistically, it’s unlikely any club would be willing to offer Cutler much in terms of financials or a serious opportunity to play. While a summer quarterback injury could lead a needy team to reach out to Cutler, his dismal performance with the Dolphins in 2017 shouldn’t open many doors.
Signed to one-year $10MM deal following an injury to Miami starter Ryan Tannehill, Cutler started 14 games for the Dolphins while completing 62% of his passes for 2,666 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Cutler’s underlying numbers gave a clearer picture of his poor campaign, as he 25th in adjusted net yards per attempt, 28th in Total QBR, and 35th among 39 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus‘ quarterback grades.
Cutler could pursue another avenue within the NFL by taking on a broadcasting role, something he was slated do in 2017 before the Dolphins came calling. He’d already announced his retirement last May and had signed on to join FOX’s NFL team, where he was to enter a three-man booth alongside play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt and fellow color commentator Charles Davis.
It sounds like Jay Cutler is retiring, again. The former Dolphins quarterback is expected to leave football, potentially to begin a reality show with his wife Kristin Cavallari, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. FOX also has interest in signing Cutler as a color commentator for NFL games, which was the position he was set to begin before signing with Miami last year.
Cutler will turn 35 on Sunday and he has ample money after 12 years as a starting QB in the NFL. Cutler’s short-lived retirement didn’t bring about the results the Dolphins were hoping for, however, as he compiled a 6-8 record in his 14 starts and threw for just 19 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 35-ranked quarterback out of 39 qualified players, a sign that he probably didn’t have much quality football left in the tank.
In December, Cutler indicated that he was still interested in playing football, though he did not want to return as a backup QB. Even as Cutler evaluates his options in television, one can’t help but wonder if a summer injury to a QB could lead to his return. Cutler is no longer starter material, but he could be the best option an NFL team can find in an emergency situation in August.
The quarterback carousel that sent several bridge options to other teams in March did not include Cutler. While his career endured some interesting twists and only featured one Pro Bowl, the former Vanderbilt standout and 2006 first-round pick outlasted his draft-class peers and was a starter for nearly his entire career.
Cutler started two full seasons for the Broncos, beginning his first-string run as a rookie late in the 2006 season, before being involved in a high-stakes trade. The Broncos shipped him to the Bears for two first-round picks in April 2009. Cutler’s 2008 season in Denver, though, doubled as his only Pro Bowl bid. Cutler did lead the 2010 Bears to the NFC championship game before being hurt during that contest — one that doubled as Chicago’s most recent playoff game. He threw a career-high 28 touchdown passes in 2014, and his 2015 work with Adam Gase (21 TDs, 64 percent completion rate) helped secure the $10MM Dolphins gig last year.
For his career, Cutler threw 227 touchdown passes and totaled 35,133 air yards, completing 62 percent of his passes. He holds Bears franchise records for career passing yards (23,443) and TD tosses with 154.
NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:
Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.
Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.
There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.
What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.
Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.
Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.
Carlos Hyde didn’t have the kind of platform year he was hoping for, but he’s still just 26 and could headline a running back by committee group.
Jerick McKinnon‘s placement on this list figures to be controversial, but his athleticism and pass-catching ability can blow a game wide open. No one will bank on McKinnon to carry the ball 20 times per game, but he can be a real difference maker for a team out there.
Can Frank Gore outrun father time? History indicates that he can’t and so does his 3.7 yards per carry average in 2017. You have to give credit where credit is due, however. Gore has been ruled out by many for years, but he has not missed a regular season game since the 2010 season. He’s also just one year removed from cracking 1,000 yards and he almost did the same last year.
For most teams, Allen Robinson would be a franchise tag candidate. However, that may be too much of a luxury for the cash-strapped Jaguars. He presents a fascinating free agent case. Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on the board in the eyes of many. His 2015 season – 80 catches, 1,400 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdowns – makes GMs drool. His quieter year in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns) is less worthy of salivation. His 2017 season, of course, was a lost cause. For all the question marks, you can expect Robinson to see more dollars than any other free agent WR this year, particularly since Jarvis Landry has been held back by the tag.
Some in the football world may prefer Sammy Watkins for his big-play ability, but his down contract year amidst a capable offense is cause for concern. His injury history doesn’t do him any favors either. No matter your feelings on Watkins, there’s no debating that this year’s WR market has a top tier comprised of just two players – Watkins and Robinson. With few quality receivers out there, they’ll both get paid.
Marqise Lee represents a much less sexy option (speaking in football terms, of course), but he had the most receptions of any Jaguars receiver in 2017 (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). Teams looking for a quality WR2 in free agency could do a lot worse than Lee and he’ll be far cheaper than the two-man top tier.
Danny Amendola hauled in 61 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs. However, teams will wonder if he can thrive in his age-33 season while playing outside of the Patriots’ offense. It’s also quite possible that he never tests the market as his stated preference is to remain in New England.
After that, you’ll notice a pretty significant drop off. That’s because this year’s WR class isn’t all that deep. Terrelle Pryor had to settle for a one-year prove-it contract last year and, to put it mildly, he did not prove it. Paul Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, but that marked his first NFL season of real note.
Trey Burton spent most of the year behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ depth chart, but he emerged late in the season and set himself up nicely for free agency. Given his age and potential, there’s no question that he is the belle of the ball at tight end.
The rest of the tight end crop is not nearly as inspiring. Jimmy Graham has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks, but he’ll turn 32 in November and he’s no longer the monster playmaker that he was in New Orleans. He had ten touchdowns in 2017, but his 9.1 yards per reception average is a career low.
Odds are, you have Tyler Eifert ranked over Austin Seferian-Jenkins given the fact that Eifert has played just ten games over the last two years. ASJ, meanwhile, rebounded from personal issues to post a 50-catch season for the Jets. Personally, I’m picking Eifert based on upside. Hopefully, we can still be friends.
Offensive line play is down across the board and evaluators around the league have been openly complaining about an increasing dearth of tackles coming out of college. That makes for a generally uninspiring lot in free agency.
Nate Solder battled through injuries in 2017 and did not miss a game. He’s no longer a top-flight option, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 32 tackle last year, meaning that he’s starter quality at left tackle. You’ll notice that three of the top five tackles on this list are Patriots. There’s little chance that the Pats let all three get away.
Justin Pugh offers the ability to play both guard and right tackle, though he might not do either one particularly well.
Andrew Norwell is the undisputed king of this category after netting an All-Pro selection in 2017. Norwell also earned a career-high 88.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, which positioned him third in the entire NFL amongst guards. A team with greater means than the Panthers might have used the franchise tag on him. Fortunately for rival teams in need of interior help (such as the Giants), they won’t cuff him with the one-year placeholder.
December 28th, 2017 at 8:24am CST by GregGoldstein
The Dolphins seemed to sign veteran quarterback Jay Cutler as more of a place holder until Ryan Tannehill returned from injury in 2018. However, it looks like Cutler is intent on suiting up once again for a team next season.
When asked by reporters on Wednesday about his football future, Cutler simply responded, ““I want to play football” (via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald on Twitter).
Cutler will be entering his age 35 season in 2018, but will be a free agent after signing a one-year contract with Miami in training camp. The veteran signal caller’s openness to keep playing is rather surprising given that he was already set to retire as a broadcaster after a long 11-year career with the Broncos and Bears. His play has been inconsistent for a majority of his time in the NFL, but only appeared in five games in 2016 because of a shoulder injury.
This season has shown more of the same with Cutler throwing 19 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He’s only completing 62% of his passes and has accumulated a QBR of 43.3 in the 13 games he’s played in this season. These are not quality starting QB numbers and I wouldn’t expect Cutler to be very sought after on the open market with how many promising signal callers are becoming available this offseason.
We’ll just have to wait and see whether Cutler follows through on his intentions, but it appears even if he does, it’ll likely be with another organization as the Dolphins already have their presumptive starter returning in Tannehill.
A day after referring to Eli Apple as “a cancer,” Landon Collins has attempted to walk that back. While that might be difficult, the All-Pro Giants safety issued an apology (on Twitter) today and confirmed he did so in person in a meeting with Apple and Steve Spagnuolo. The interim HC confirmed the meeting, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).
“I met with Coach Spags and Eli this morning and I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins said. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”
On Tuesday during a radio interview, Collins said Apple “needs to grow up.” Wednesday’s apology marks the latest chapter in a weeks-long saga involving the two defensive backs. Earlier this month, Collins said he’d talked to Apple — who has taken a step back this season — and told media the cornerback’s issues were mental and that he was dealing with “significant” personal struggles. Apple then denied Collins spoke with him, and the third-year safety — according to NJ.com — had to be restrained by teammates as he attempted to confront the second-year corner. Apple has not been suspended like Janoris Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were, but he’s been benched and reportedly nearly left the Giants’ facility because of a harsh film-room session earlier this season.
Here’s the latest out of the Eastern divisions.
Josh McDaniels remains linked to Patriots exec Nick Caserio regarding GM/HC arrangements, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the New England OC could also be interested in pairing up with Louis Riddick as a GM. Riddick interviewed for the Giants’ GM job last week, although Dave Gettleman is viewed as the favorite. McDaniels and Caserio were a sought-after tandem last year, with the 49ers having shown interest in bringing them to the Bay Area.
Davis Webb will rise to the Giants‘ No. 2 quarterback role and take Geno Smith‘s place as Eli Manning‘s backup, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It will be the first time Webb suits up as an NFLer. Smith will be inactive Sunday, and Webb could see time off the bench in the game under the format Ben McAdoo broached with Manning upon benching him earlier this year. Spagnuolo, however, said (via Schwartz, on Twitter) there are “no guarantees” the third-round rookie makes his NFL debut against the Redskins.
The Jets are likely to land a pick in the lower part of the top 10, and Brian Costello of the New York Post ranked the most- to least-likely scenarios involving offseason quarterback plans. Most likely is a setup where the Jets draft Josh Allen with their first pick and re-sign Josh McCown to continue his better-than-expected stopgap work. Costello notes the Jets’ top competition for the Wyoming passer could be the Broncos. John Elway trekked to the Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, last week to observe Allen in person. The Jets, though, have put in the most work on Allen to this point. Gang Green’s No. 2 scenario? Kirk Cousins, whom Costello recalls the team showing interest in after Smith was sucker-punched in 2015.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Cutler wants to return for another NFL season, whether its as a backup or a starter. Before Tannehill’s injury, Cutler had planned to serve as a color commentator for the NFL on FOX. The 34-year-old (35 in April) may want to pivot back to the broadcast booth, particularly if he’s being offered backup QB money that is roughly in line with what he’d make on TV. This year, the Dolphins paid him $10MM — significantly more than he was going to make as an analyst.
Jackson posits that Cutler would want a deal that matches or tops Nick Foles‘ two-year, $11MM pact with the Eagles if he were to serve as a backup. A salary of ~$6MM per year would be on the high side for a No. 2 QB and Matt Moore could instead be re-signed for significantly less.
Ultimately, Cutler’s performance in the final two games of the season weigh heavily on his future in Miami. He’s produced better work at times down the stretch than he did during a rough start, but the 12th-year passer’s still put together an inconsistent campaign. Cutler’s best game came in Week 14, when he threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns in a home upset of the Patriots. The Dolphins are 6-6 in his starts.
Cutler also has encountered injury trouble that could play a role in his decision to pursue a 13th season. He spent time in concussion protocol and suffered a rib injury. Both maladies induced one-game absences.
November 29th, 2017 at 1:55pm CST by Dallas Robinson
Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and will start Sunday against the Broncos, head coach Adam Gase told reporters, including Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
Miami will turn back to Cutler following a start by backup Matt Moore in Week 12, a loss to the division rival Patriots in which Moore completed 23 of 34 attempts for 215 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. No matter who is under center going forward, the Dolphins aren’t likely to be contending for playoff spot, as the 4-7 club has only a 1% chance of securing a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.
Cutler, who also missed Week 8 with a ribs injury, has struggled in his first season with the Dolphins. He ranks near the bottom of the league in most quarterback metrics, grades as the No. 33 quarterback among 37 qualifiers per Pro Football Focus, and isn’t throwing the ball down the field, as his 7.8-yard average depth of target ranks 32nd in the NFL.
Browns receiver Josh Gordon declared himself ready to go despite having another week before he is ready to be activated, according to ESPN’s Tony Grossi.
“It’s been awesome. It’s been a joy. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting,” Gordon said Friday. “I think I knocked that rust off prior to getting back to the building. I think I accomplished that. First day of practice, [I was] able to adjust pretty quickly.”
Anyone worried about Gordon needing time to round into shape hasn’t kept up with his comeback. The former All-Pro receiver has been working out constantly and looks ready to go when the team can activate him in Week 13.
Here’s more from around the AFC:
The Chargers did not escape their Thanksgiving Day bout with the Cowboys unscathed. Kicker Nick Novak sustained a back injury and his status has led the team to possibly tryout kickers next week, Eric Williams of ESPN reports (Twitter link).
The Dolphins have ruled out Jay Cutler (concussion) for Week 12 vs. New England, ESPN’s James Walker reports (Twitter link). The team will turn to Matt Moore for the divisional bout.
Steelers rookie wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster has been ruled out of the team’s Sunday night matchup with Green Bay, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. (Twitter link). The first-year receiver from USC has been impressive in recent weeks, averaging 17.2 yards per reception and logging five touchdowns on the season. He will miss the game due to a hamstring injury.