Referring to Jay Cutler as a franchise quarterback is an insult to the term. Instead, he should be deemed a con artist. For over a decade, his prodigious arm talent convinced NFL teams to invest millions of dollars in his services. Just ask Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears fans how that experiment went. Heck, even Miami Dolphins fans got to experience a year of Cutler’s antics.
With a career losing record and a single playoff berth in 12 seasons, Jay Cutler was far from a franchise quarterback. Rather, he was an elite con artist who swindled three franchises out of more than $127 million.
Jay Cutler’s disappointing Broncos career
Once John Elway retired, the Broncos endured eight years of mediocrity with Brian Griese and Jake Plummer. In desperate need of a franchise quarterback, Mike Shanahan selected Jay Cutler with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. Incredibly, he became a first-round pick despite throwing 36 interceptions and completing just 57.2 percent of his passes at Vanderbilt. While his rocket right arm caused him to draw comparisons to Elway and Brett Favre, Cutler proved that elite arm strength couldn’t make him an elite quarterback.
As a rookie, the 6-foot-3, 231-pounder spent most of the season watching from the sidelines before eventually taking over down the stretch. However, Cutler averaged just 200 yards passing and went 2-3. The 24-year-old took over as the full-time starter in his second season and went 7-9. In Shanahan’s final year in Denver, Cutler did throw for 4,526 yards—a mark he never came close to topping again in his NFL career. However, the Broncos went 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the third straight season.
Just like he did in college, Cutler posted a losing record (17-20) with his first NFL franchise while also throwing 37 interceptions. Once Josh McDaniels took over in 2009, he had no desire to work with a quarterback whose strong arm couldn’t make up for his bad attitude and erratic play. Incredibly, the Broncos got rid of Jay Cutler before his rookie deal expired by shipping him to the Bears for a package that included quarterback Kyle Orton, two first-round picks and a third-rounder.
Bears got a horrible return on their investment
Like Broncos fans, Bears nation endured years of poor quarterback play. So when Cutler came on board, everyone expected him to turn around one of the NFL’s most historic franchises. But as he did in Denver, Jay Cutler failed to deliver on his supposed “franchise quarterback” status. Despite wearing out his welcome in his previous stop, he received a two-year, $28.9 million extension after getting off to a 3-2 start. Cutler’s first year in Chicago ended with a 7-9 record and a league-leading 26 interceptions. Over the next three years, he enjoyed the strongest stretch of his career by compiling an impressive 27-13 record. Chicago earned a playoff berth in 2010, but that only exposed Cutler as a phony franchise quarterback even more.
After a four-touchdown performance against the Seattle Seahawks, Cutler squared off against Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship. The Bears’ starting quarterback suffered a knee injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. He caught a ton of heat from the media and fans when it became public knowledge that he had only sustained a sprained MCL. In a league where Philip Rivers once played on a torn ACL, it did nothing to shed Cutler’s reputation as an overrated diva.
Cutler didn’t deserve franchise QB label despite earning elite money
You can’t discuss Jay Cutler’s NFL career without looking at his ridiculous contracts. Even though he had led the team to just a single postseason berth in five years, the Bears inexplicably handed their starting quarterback a massive seven-year, $126.7 million deal. He proceeded to lead the league in interceptions again while posting a 5-10 record. Chicago went 6-9 with Cutler under center in 2015, and he lasted just five games the following year before landing on injured reserve. In eight years as the team’s starting quarterback, he posted a thoroughly unimpressive 51-51 record while getting paid $104 million. It certainly seems like the Bears didn’t get their money’s worth.
To top it off, after getting cut by Chicago and subsequently announcing his retirement, Cutler got off the couch to take a $10 million offer from the Dolphins. He swindled Miami out of its money by throwing 14 interceptions in 14 starts while posting a 6-8 record.
For a quarterback who supposedly had the physical tools scouts dream about, Cutler never lived up to the hype. He went 74-79 with just one postseason berth in 12 years. But with $127.9 million career earnings Jay Cutler proved he was elite at conning NFL teams into believing he was a franchise quarterback.