- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DENVER (AP) - Jay Cutler’s days in Denver appear numbered.

The Denver Broncos’ temperamental quarterback is about to receive his wish to be traded _ a request he made last month after getting angry that his name came up in trade talks.

Team owner Pat Bowlen released a statement Tuesday night saying both he and coach Josh McDaniels had been unable to reach Cutler over the last 10 days. Bowlen said he spoke with Cutler’s agent, Bus Cook, becoming convinced “that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos.”

“We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded,” Bowlen said in his terse statement.

Cook didn’t return messages to The Associated Press, and McDaniels, through a team spokesman, declined to comment.

For weeks, McDaniels has insisted he was not going to consider trading Cutler and was trying to mend fences.

The rift proved to be irreparable.

NFC teams expected to make a pitch for Cutler include Tampa Bay, Detroit, Chicago, Washington and Minnesota. In the AFC, the New York Jets are unsettled at quarterback following Brett Favre’s retirement.

The saga started after Cutler learned that McDaniels and the Broncos showed interest in acquiring Matt Cassel, who McDaniels groomed in New England last season after Tom Brady went down in the opener with a knee injury. The Patriots flourished under Cassel, becoming the second team in 31 years of the 16-game schedule to miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

Cassel ended up being traded to Kansas City, but Cutler was infuriated when he found out about the trade talks. His distrust in McDaniels only grew in two subsequent meetings that were designed to clear the air.

McDaniels kept trying to reconcile the relationship but he couldn’t get his franchise quarterback to call him back.

Cutler is halfway through the six-year, $48 million deal he signed as a rookie, and his salary cap number for the 2009 season is a little over $1 million. That’s a bargain for whichever team ends up with the rocket-armed quarterback who made the Pro Bowl after just his second full season as a starter.

Of course, Cutler could look for a new contract at his new home.

The news of the Broncos’ decision to try to grant Cutler his trade request caught teammates off guard.

“It’s shocking,” linebacker Spencer Larsen said. “This is the worst-case scenario.”

Cutler is 17-20 as the Broncos’ starter, a record that’s misleading given a Denver defense that’s been in disarray the last few seasons. He’s an impressive 13-1 when the Broncos hold an opponent to 21 points or less.

“When I think about Jay, I think of confidence,” Larsen said. “You could see it when he walked around the locker (room). He was extremely confident with his abilities. You never doubted where his heart was at.”

Cutler didn’t take it well when the Broncos fired coach Mike Shanahan, who selected the Vanderbilt product with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft.

But Cutler’s coolness began to thaw, meeting several times with McDaniels and expressing a desire to learn his complex Patriots-style offense.

The situation quickly changed when he learned McDaniels had spoken with the Patriots about Cassel.

Around that time, Cutler also put his Denver area home up for sale.

Last week at the NFL owners meetings in Southern California, McDaniels reiterated his commitment to Cutler, although he said no options, including trades, were being ruled out.

“I’ve always been optimistic,” McDaniels said. “He’s on our team, he’s under contract, and I understand there’s things we have to work toward in our relationship.”

The 32-year-old McDaniels is in his first head coaching job after serving as offensive coordinator for New England, where he developed the untested Cassel into a top quarterback in 2008.

Now that Cutler is on the trading block, the Broncos have only Chris Simms and Darrell Hackney at quarterback.

Simms signed a two-year, $6 million free agent deal to seemingly serve as Cutler’s backup.

He could soon find himself leading the Broncos if the team doesn’t acquire another quarterback. Simms has thrown just two passes since undergoing emergency surgery to remove his spleen after a game in 2006.


AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this story.

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