Like a volcano that spews hundreds of thousands of pounds of rock and lava into the air when it goes off, the Jay Cutler trade continues to cause after-shocks and ash storms in the Mile High City.
Cutler landed on the shores of Lake Michigan, head coach Josh McDaniels had something to say on Friday, so did owner Pat Bowlen who sent his season ticket holders a letter. Turns out, Cutler is not fond of his new offensive coordinator in Chicago and folks in New England are again questioning why Bill Belichick got so little from the Chiefs for Matt Cassel.
There’s plenty of other stuff going down, including the New York Giants releasing troubled WR Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick’s bankruptcy plan was rejected, possible positive drugs by potential draftees are being disputed and assorted of other interesting items.
But first, the last gasps of the Cutler trade.
CUTLER ARRIVAL IN CHICAGO: He was introduced Friday afternoon by the Bears, with GM Ted Phillips (left) and head coach Lovie Smith (right). “Obviously there’s been a lot said, on my part and the Broncos part, over the last couple of months,” Cutler said. “I think both sides would possibly do a few things differently. But everything happens for a reason. That’s behind me. This is a dream come true for me. And I’m looking forward to the future.”
Cutler acknowledged being a Bears fan growing up in southern Indiana. Asked about the high expectations that followed him into Chicago, Cutler chuckled at the notion that he is the savior of the franchise. “I don’t see myself as that at all,” he said. “In this league, I think I’ve learned over the past three years that it takes offense, it takes defense, it takes special teams, and it takes great coaching. If you don’t have all four of those, you’re not going to go very far.” Here’s the video from Chicago.
MCDANIELS SPEAKS IN DENVER: The Broncos head coach spoke about the trade for the first time publicly. “When it became obvious that it wasn’t going to be resolved in the way that we were trying to resolve it, and I think at the point it became apparent and clear that we weren’t going to work out, the mindset was kind of, ‘What are we waiting for?’” said McDaniels.
“There’s tough decisions to make and there are some easy ones, but there are a lot more difficult decisions you have to make on a daily basis, and if you’re afraid to make those decisions, then you shouldn’t do this and you shouldn’t be in this line of work,” McDaniels added. “We’re looking forward to moving on with our team, and like I said, we’re excited.” Here’s the video from Denver.
BOWLEN WRITES A LETTER: The Denver owner went right to his season ticket holders in a letter Friday to explain t he Cutler trade. “I am writing this letter today because I feel compelled to give our community and our fans an explanation regarding the Jay Cutler situation,” Bowlen wrote. “I assure you both Josh and I made repeated attempts to reach out to Jay, and I can not speak for him as to why he chose to limit his response. Ultimately, given his unwillingness to speak with either of us directly in the last 12 days- at the same time his agent clearly stating to us Jay’s intentions- it became very apparent to me personally that he no longer wanted to play for the Denver Broncos. As such, we elected to trade him.
“Understand this: it remains about team. Our franchise has gone to the Super Bowl six times, with three different coaches and with many different players. It has never been about one player, and it never will be.” You can read the whole thing right here.
TURNER AND CUTLER HAVE A PAST AND IT AINT PRETTY: Although there are two sides playing out on this story, Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner and Cutler have met before, and it didn’t go well. Coming out of Heritage Hills High School in Indiana, Cutler wanted to play at the University of Illinois. The Illini supposedly recruited him. The head coach there at the time was Turner. But when Cutler visited the school in December of his senior year, his family says he was told the scholarship offer had been rescinded because Illinois wanted to sign a hotshot quarterback out of Illinois.
“It is ironic that Jay is playing for Turner,” Cutler father Jack said Friday in a phone interview with the Chicago Tribune. “But we don’t hold a grudge or anything like that. I talked to Jay about the trade for a long time (Thursday) and again today, and it never came up. It’s not an issue.”
Time has helped heal any wounds. Turner couldn’t be reached for comment but remembered a slightly different version when recounting the episode two years ago. “I don’t know why, but for some reason we weren’t too involved (recruiting Cutler) — I guess that’s why I’m here,” Turner said. “It’s one of those mistakes you make. I never offered him. We never pulled anything, no. It never got that far.”
That’s not how the Cutler’s remember things. He had turned down interest from Purdue, Duke and Maryland to commit to Illinois. When he was left empty-handed in Champaign, he was forced to scramble and landed in Vanderbilt.
“At the time we were really disappointed and it broke Jay’s heart but we believe things happen for a reason and Jay ended up going to Vanderbilt and having a great career,” Jack Cutler said. “There are no hard feelings whatsoever.”
WHY WASN’T MATT CASSEL WORTH AT LEAST A FIRST-ROUND PICK? That’s what some Patriots fans and pundits want to know in light of the package of picks and Orton that Denver got for Cutler.
The deal with the Chiefs came because of the Patriots motivation to create some room under the salary cap. With Cassel at that franchise quarterback figure of $14.6 million, New England needed cap room to sign other free agents. There were not a lot of teams at the start of free agency that had the cap room the Chiefs did. Scott Pioli was ahead of the curve in his talks with Bill Belichick and had the deal in place with the start of the signing period.
The Patriots franchised Cassel because they did not want to lose him without some sort of compensation. That would have happened if they had not made him the franchise player. In this case, they at least got a second-round choice.
GIANTS SEND PLAXICO PACKING WITHOUT HEAT
After everything that’s happened, the Giants finally had enough of their wayward wide receiver.
Just this week a hearing on his gun charge in New York City was postponed. A grievance against the Giants by the NFL Players Association over his contract was heard on Wednesday. The day before that hearing, Burress turned down a reworked contract offered by the Giants.
Son on Friday, they cut him loose.
“I am an optimist, and I believe most situations can be worked out,” Giants GM Jerry Reese said in a team statement. “We hung in there as long as we could in hopes that there could be a resolution to this situation other than the decision we made today to release Plaxico. It wasn’t to be, so now we have to move on.”
Burress is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a loaded and unlicensed weapon.
The top count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3Β½ years in prison. Sources familiar with the case said prosecutors have been unwilling to accept any plea deal that doesn’t at least include some jail time. Reese has insisted many times the Giants would be willing to bring the 31-year-old receiver back.
Said head coach Tom Coughlin in the team statement: “My hope is that everything that has happened over the past several months represents a turning point. He is a young man with a family who has a whole lifetime ahead of him, and I personally wish him and his family well.”
VICK BANKRUPTCY PLAN REJECTED BY COURT
On Thursday and Friday, Michael Vick was in a Virginia courtroom as his bankruptcy case was heard by a judge. When it was all said and done on Friday, the judge sent Vick back to the drawing board and the federal pen in Leavenworth.
Judge Santoro said it was commendable that Vick wanted to take charge of his finances by himself, but said it had taken months of accountants, trustees and lawyers working to unravel his assets in the first place. “No one is good at everything, but the fact, Mr. Vick, is you are perhaps extraordinary at your chosen profession, but that does not translate into financial sophistication,” Santoro said.
Earlier in the hearing, Vick told Santoro that his time in prison gave him time to think about the “heinous” act he committed, and he’s realized he needs to make some changes.”I can’t live like the old Mike Vick,” he told a courtroom filled with his family, friends and fiancee. “I was very immature. I did a lot of things I wasn’t supposed to do being a role model.”
In prison, he testified that he filled his days by reading, writing, playing basketball and working a 12-cent-an-hour job as a janitor. He said the experience has given him a chance to develop he called “an exit strategy.”
Now he has to revamp that strategy.
NFL HAS PROBLEM WITH DRUG EXPOSES
A website devoted to the draft says at least five potential first round picks in this month’s NFL Draft tested positive at the NFL Scouting Combine on the drug test. Some were for marijuana, some for steroids.
They name names, but knowing nothing about this site, we aren’t going to repeat them.
And here’s why. Representatives for half of the players said Friday the reports were news to them and the league says they haven’t even seen a list of players yet who have failed the Combine tests.
Every year at this time the draft landscape gets littered with rumors of players with problems. Sometimes, those rumors can effect just where a player is drafted. Back in 1983, there were many rumors about University of Pittsburgh quarterback Dan Marino having a drug problem. It was the reason he was the sixth of that six-member QB class of ’83 that has three Hall of Famers: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Marino.
JARED ALLEN STAYING HOME THIS OFF-SEASON
I’m in phenomenal shape,” Jared Allen told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this week.
The Vikings defensive end is not attending the team’s off-season condition program. Instead, he transformed the garage at his Arizona home into a gym. His plan is to work there with his Phoenix based trainers. When he played with the Chiefs, Allen participated in the team’s workout program until his final two years. That’s when he started working out on his own.
“The year I didn’t work out (with the team), I got in so much better shape,” Allen said. “I had a good core of trainers. So why mess up a good thing?”
Besides, he said, the time away helps him “clear his mind,” and he wants to spend quality time at his offseason home in Arizona. “I own a house in Arizona, so I do want to spend some time here,” he said.
LEAGUE PLAYER SIGNINGS AND MOVEMENT
BILLS – restricted free agent S George Wilson signed his tender offer.
GIANTS – released WR Plaxico Burress.
JAGUARS – released TE George Wrightster
RAVENS – promoted Ray Anderson to defensive assistant and hired Matt Weiss as head coach assistant (Stanford).
TITANS – signed QB Patrick Ramsey (Denver).
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on April 4, 1963 in Castro Valley, California was LB Jack Del Rio. In his 11-year career, he played two seasons (1987-88) and 25 games with the Chiefs. He contributed four sacks and one interception.
Born on April 4, 1941 in Ellsworth, Pennsylvania was DE Jack Maczuzak, who played one game with the Chiefs in 1964.
Born on April 5, 1954 in Drew, Mississippi was TE Al Dixon. He played in 39 games over four seasons with the team (1979-82), catching 54 passes for 727 yards and five touchdowns.