Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase believes free agent Jay Cutler still has plenty to offer teams in need of help at quarterback.
“I think he’s a starting quarterback in the NFL,” Gase told reporters at the owners meetings in Phoenix.
However, the rest of the league may feel otherwise. The Chicago Bears released Cutler, 33, at the onset of free agency — severing an eight-year relationship — but except for the New York Jets expressing some early interest prior to signing Josh McCown, Cutler has fallen off the football radar in recent weeks.
Gase, who called plays for Cutler for one season in Chicago, cautioned against writing off Cutler. Under Gase in 2015, Cutler threw only 11 interceptions and posted a career-high 92.3 quarterback rating. After Gase left to take the Dolphins job, Cutler’s passer rating plummeted to 78.1 over five starts before he landed on injured reserve with a torn right labrum. Cutler also missed time in 2016 because of a thumb injury.
“My experience with him was very good,” Gase said. “I don’t get all the hatred towards him. I see a guy that worked hard and did everything he could to help his team win. He sacrificed his body. To me, he was an athletic quarterback that can throw the ball. When you got to third down you could call the worst play possible and he would get the conversion. He made a lot of things that we did look really good. I think he has a lot to offer a team.”
Gase, however, ruled out a reunion with Cutler in Miami.
“I had a very brief text message exchange with him [this offseason] just saying that if he needs anything to holler at me,” Gase said. “I guess it was more if you’re going somewhere and you need to know about it — any organization or coaching staff — just holler at me and I’ll give you what I know. I’ve never brought up anything about coming with us [to Miami] because I like our situation. I love Jay, but I do like the situation we’ve got going on right now at our place.”
Many have speculated that minus the right opportunity, Cutler may simply retire, as opposed to going someplace to be a backup. Money isn’t much of an issue for Cutler. He has been a full-time NFL starter since the end of his rookie year (2006) in Denver where the Broncos — in the days before the rookie salary cap — drafted him 11th overall. Cutler went on to sign two massive extensions during his time in Chicago, with the final deal guaranteeing him $54 million.
“It’s not as easy as people think it would be when you’ve been a starter for your entire career and then all of a sudden, be like, ‘OK, I’ll be a backup.'” Gase said. “If that’s the role in his mind that he wanted to do, then he’d probably be good [at being a backup]. But if that’s not where his mind is, then I wouldn’t see him wanting to do that.”