The Denver Broncos, understandably, thought they had their quarterback of the future in Jay Cutler when the 2008 season ended.
Although Denver had an ugly collapse and fired veteran head coach Mike Shanahan, Cutler did enough to increase optimism about his future with the Broncos.
Then, the Denver Broncos hired Josh McDaniels to replace Shanahan. What followed is one of the silliest and pettiest feuds involving a starting quarterback in NFL history.
Jay Cutler started his career in Denver
Years before Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl title, Jay Cutler suited up under center and hoped to accomplish that goal.
Denver used the 11th overall pick on Cutler in the 2006 NFL draft, and he took the starting reins from Jake Plummer midway through the season. Cutler completed 59.1% of his passes for 1,001 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions in five starts.
Cutler started all 16 games in 2007 and hit 63.6% of his passes for 3,497 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He also ran for a touchdown on 4.7 yards per carry.
Although Cutler led the Broncos to an 8-4 start in 2008, the team lost its final four games and missed the postseason. Cutler ended his third NFL season having completed 62.3% of his passes for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.
Cutler feuded with Josh McDaniels after the 2008 season
RELATED: What Is Jay Cutler Doing Now?
Denver fired veteran head coach Mike Shanahan and hired Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels immediately after the 2008 season.
The hire made sense for all parties. McDaniels was a bright offensive young mind who would team up with a young gunslinger in Jay Cutler, fresh off his first — and only — Pro Bowl nod.
When McDaniels arrived, though, he wanted to make a change at quarterback. Although Matt Cassel led New England to a 10-5 record when Tom Brady missed almost all of the 2008 season, Cassel was available on the trade market with Brady about to return.
Understandably, McDaniels wanted to acquire his former quarterback and bring him into the fold in Denver. Cutler found himself upset by reports that Denver was open to trading him and replacing him with Cassel.
The entire situation didn’t sit well with Cutler, who publicly criticized McDaniels for wanting to replace him and how the new head coach handled the situation.
Denver traded Jay Cutler to Chicago (and no one won)
Jay Cutler demanded the Denver Broncos trade him in March 2009. At the time, Cutler explicitly said he couldn’t trust McDaniels or the Broncos’ management.
According to ESPN, Cutler wanted to stay with the Broncos and make things work under McDaniels. However, McDaniels told Cutler that he wanted Cassel and “said he wasn’t sorry about it.”
“Before this trade for Cassel thing ever came up, in the two weeks or so I had spent with McDaniels, he was basically telling me that he came to Denver because he wanted to coach me and that we needed to trust each other. He’s never been critical to me. But trust now? How can I trust him now?”
Denver traded Cutler and a fifth-round draft pick to the Chicago Bears for quarterback Kyle Orton, the Bears’ first and third-round selections in 2009, and a first-round pick in 2010.
No one really won the trade. Cutler went 51-51 in eight seasons with the Broncos and completed 61.8% of his passes for 23,443 yards, 154 touchdowns, and 109 interceptions.
Chicago only made the postseason once, though, and Cutler developed a reputation as a slightly above-average quarterback who couldn’t stay healthy or get his team over the hump.
Denver started 5-0 under McDaniels in 2009, but went 3-8 and missed the postseason. The Broncos fired McDaniels midway through the 2010 season after he feuded with other players.
Orton performed well under center but was benched early in the 2011 season for Tim Tebow. Orton closed his career with several other teams before he retired after the 2014 season.