Jay Cutler has been brought out of retirement to replace the injured Ryan Tannehill in Miami.
The former Bears and Broncos quarterback has signed a one year deal with the Dolphins, reportedly worth $10 million, with an additional $3 million in incentives, according to Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter.
Cutler was released by the Bears earlier this offseason after the team failed to find a trade partner for their then-starting quarterback. This came after the team signed Mike Glennon to a $45 million dollar deal that made Cutler’s departure all but certain.
Two months after his release, having garnered little to no interest on the free agent market, Cutler announced his retirement, and signed a deal to join the FOX Sports commentary booth. However, his name continued to whirl around the free agency rumor mill as he waited for a guaranteed starting position appropriate salary.
At the same time, the Miami Dolphins were entering their second year under Head Coach Adam Gase, Cutler’s one year Offensive Coordinator in Chicago. 2015, Cutler and Gase’s only year together, resulted in a huge leap in terms of productivity, as he achieved his career high passer rating of 92.3%, and threw 7 fewer interceptions than 2014. Cutler showed bad signs of regression in 2016, with Dowell Loggains having taken the helm from Gase. His season was cut short by injury, and the end of his Bears’ tenure followed soon after.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins were coming off a playoff appearance and their first winning record since 2008. Ryan Tannehill suffered a partial ACL tear at the tail end of the season and missed the playoffs, but it seemed that Tannehill was finally poised to make the jump he has always had the potential to.
However, Tannehill suffered a knee injury during practice, and further analysis has shown that it is a significant injury, most likely an ACL tear, which will require season ending knee surgery. This apparently complete tear combined with last year’s partial tear is a bad sign for Tannehill’s durability.
Obviously in dire need of a starting quarterback, the sports media debated whether or not the Dolphins would sign Cutler or the highly controversial Colin Kaepernick, with some sources allegedly saying that Tim Tebow was even discussed. However, it seemed obvious that Gase would want his former quarterback that thrived in his offense, and Cutler was signed.
Cutler is fairly beaten up, as he has been sacked over 300 hundred times since his career began in 2006, resulting in a broken thumb, a torn shoulder labrum, and a sprained MCL over his 11 year career. Miami had a series of problems with their offensive line last season, but they believe that they have rectified the problem. That may be the determining factor in Cutler’s success this season: whether he can stay upright behind some true protection.
The new QB may also be auditioning for the permanent starting spot going further.
Tannehill’s ability to be a successful long term QB has frequently been called into question. He’s thrown for 3,000+ yards 4 out of 5 years of his career, with two of those seasons being 4,000+ yards. Those numbers didn’t always turn into wins (with Tannehill having a concerning amount of interceptions during his great seasons), and the team didn’t have a winning record under him until 2016. Although, there is a very good point to be made about Tannehill’s lack of offensive line protection (resulting in 200+ times sacked), and lack of offensive weapons for most of his tenure as the reason for the team’s lack of production despite his great passing numbers.
It should be emphasized that Tannehill’s winning record last season was indeed under Gase. So there are two quarterbacks that thrive under their head coach. One is a mid-thirties veteran on a one year deal with a career on the line, and the other is a younger player hitting his stride with a new coach when a knee problem sidelined him for a very long time.
The Dolphins’ future might be defined by the quarterback play of this season. Keep your eyes on Miami.