March 17th, 2009 10:15 EST
Cutler's Absence from the Broncos' First Team Meeting Kindles Trade Talks
Jay Cutler was curiously missing from the Bronos` first team meeting and first offseason exercises under new head coach Josh McDaniels on Monday. McDaniels was chosen as Mike Shanahan`s replacement after the latter was let go following the Broncos` loss to the Chargers, which cost them a trip to the playoffs.
The news didn`t come as a surprise to many considering the hostile relationship fostered between Denver`s star quarterback and the new head coach. Cutler has gone on record to say that he will only be happy once he traded to another team.
The Broncos verified Cutler`s statement to media sources on Monday, through the player`s agent acting on behalf of his client`s interests. Cutler`s agent, Bus Cook, hasn`t spoken to the press since his client requested a trade.
Tensions between Cutler and McDaniels erupted when news revealed that McDaniels, recently departed from the New England Patriots where he was the offensive coordinator for the past three seasons, tried to trade the quarterback to his former team in exchange for Patriots` QB Matt Cassel in February. As the story goes, McDaniels regaled the idea of conducting a three-way deal with the Buccaneers and the Patriots that would`ve landed Cassel in Denver. However since those talks have passed, Cassel was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs.
According to ESPN, Cutler asserted he would attend every mandatory minicamp and training camp but wouldn`t appear at the offseason training exercises, which isn`t punishable by fines. While attendance at the offseason training exercises is voluntary, Broncos` officials expect everyone to attend regardless of that condition. The team holds its first minicamp between April 17th and 19th, one week before the NFL draft.
Cutler and McDaniels arranged a sit-down meeting for the first time since the deal rumors on Saturday with Cutler`s agent and the Broncos` manager Brian Xanders participating in the conference. Before going into the meeting meant to clear the animosity between he and his coach, Cutler wanted to make amends with McDaniels. Coming out of the conference, Cutler seemed even more embittered towards the coach right before he voiced his desire to be traded. The quarterback is also under the impression that he was misled by the head coaching newcomer. Believing him to be untrustworthy, Cutler said he didn`t want to play for McDaniels.
Unfortunately, the Broncos have no intentions of seeing Cutler go. In his breakout 2008 season, Cutler broke many of John Elway`s passing records on route to his first selection to the Pro Bowl this last February. But as the standoff continues to harm the inner workings of the team`s relationships, it`s more than likely Cutler will be traded well before the season starts in August.
Commenting about the move he tried to pull with his mentors in New England, McDaniels confessed that his only crime was sitting and listening to the trade proposals brought to his attention that could have long-term benefits for the team. McDaniel`s first task this year as Denver`s head coach is to restructure the team into a playoff contender, which it hasn`t been since 2005.
The Denver Broncos have been actively signing new players since their disappointing 2008 finish. 15 free agents have already been added to the team`s roster going into minicamps. Chris Simms, former starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was signed to a two-year $6 million contract, presumably as Cutler`s backup. Simms had an emergency procedure to remove his spleen in 2006 and has only thrown two passes for the Bucs since.