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Jay Cutler must be looking pretty good now to Chicago Bears fans who were happy to see him go after the 2016 season. But the question on the ex-quarterback’s mind these days revolves around whether network television executives feel the same way.

Cutler would like a second chance at a career that he gave up before it even started when he fled a football analyst job for an ill-fated return to the NFL with the Miami Dolphins three seasons ago. His options aren’t plentiful.

Jay Cutler is marking time on Kristin Cavallari’s reality series

Retired football player Jay Cutler is pulling the equivalent of clipboard duty by a backup quarterback on NFL sidelines with his current gig on wife Kristin Cavallari’s reality show. He helps keep the show moving but he’s second fiddle to Cavallari, who in the tradition of Kim Kardashian is famous primarily for being famous.

Very Cavallari premiered in July 2018 and focuses on Cutler’s wife as she attempts to launch a headquarters in Nashville – he played football there at Vanderbilt University — for her line of jewelry. The series is in its third season on the E! network, but viewership has slumped and there’s reason to wonder whether there will be a fourth season.

In that context, it makes sense for Cutler, 36, to prepare for the next chapter of his career. A recent episode showed him alluding to discussions this winter with sports executives at CBS and ESPN about joining an NFL broadcast team. The rumor mill has him being more interested in doing color commentary on games rather than contributing as a studio analyst.

What are Jay Cutler’s options for doing NFL games on TV?

ESPN is still trying to figure out what to do with its Monday Night Football booth but Jay Cutler hasn’t been linked to a role there. With ESPN having only a small slice of the NFL for the time being, it would make more sense that Cutler would go to CBS or Fox.

On the surface, however, it would be a tight squeeze for Cutler to make it into a booth at CBS, which has a full weekly schedule of NFL games under the current contract but also possesses a deep roster of color commentators.

Former quarterbacks Tony Romo, Dan Fouts, Trent Green, and Rich Gannon are at the top of the CBS depth chart for analysts. James Lofton and Tiki Barber are among the other former NFL standouts who were on last season’s roster, so it would seem Cutler would have to make a huge impression on the network bosses to land an opportunity.

As for Fox, which also has a large slate of weekly games, it’s worth remembering Cutler’s first venture into broadcasting. After being cut by the Chicago Bears following the 2016 season and subsequently announcing his retirement, Cutler passed his audition and was expected to be assigned to one of Fox’s top booth teams.

Cutler called an audible on Aug. 7, 2017, signing a one-year, $10 million contract with the Miami Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury. It’s reasonable to speculate that Cutler is regarded as persona non grata by Fox because of that.

Jay Cutler’s career numbers weren’t as bad as we think we remember

Retired QB Jay Cutler made his NFL debut in 2006 with the Denver Broncos (he had been drafted by the Los Angeles Rams) and played 12 at-times enigmatic seasons along the lines of Eli Manning’s career with the New York Giants – but without the two Super Bowl rings.

Cutler’s record as a starter was better than .500 in only three seasons and he finished with a 74-79 career mark. His ratio of 227 touchdown passes to 160 interceptions wasn’t great, but Cutler completed 62% of his attempts and kept plays alive, only once being sacked more than 38 times in a season.

Many Bears fans were happy to see him be released, but three years of Mitch Trubisky may be changing how Cutler is remembered for eight seasons and 102 starts there.