Until the memory of Elway fades -- which is unlikely until there's another Super Bowl trophy or two in Denver -- all quarterbacks will have to deal with that comparison.
"I think they could have drafted anyone in the first round and you'd get Elway comparisons," Cutler said. "It's flattering, but I haven't even taken a snap yet. I don't even know the playbook. It's a long way to go to even be in the same ballpark as him."
Cutler is the first potential franchise quarterback Denver has had since Elway. Brian Griese had some success in immediately succeeding Elway, and Jake Plummer has led Denver to three straight playoff appearances. But nobody has approached Elway's success or his popularity.
Cutler and Elway have a few similarities. Both came from academic institutions (Cutler went to Vanderbilt, Elway went to Stanford) that never made a bowl game despite having a superstar quarterback for four years. Both have gunslinger reputations because of their strong arms, something that should make Cutler interesting to watch. They even throw similarly -- Cutler generates much of his power from his shoulders, something Elway was famous for.
Cutler won't take over for Plummer for another year or two, unlike Elway. Elway was involved in a high-profile trade from Baltimore and ended up starting 10 games as a rookie. The Broncos hope that's not the case with Cutler because Plummer gives them the best opportunity to win right away.
Cutler conceded that he doesn't expect to beat out Plummer as a rookie but he won't come in with a passive attitude.
"I've competed throughout my life, so I don't see that changing," Cutler said. "It's just going to be a matter of how quickly I can process the information and do it on the field."
--Denver signed punter Jeff Williams of Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo. as an undrafted free agent. Williams is a local product from Longmont, Colo. He set a NCAA Division II record with a 44.9-yard punting average in his career.
The Broncos have Todd Sauerbrun already but Williams will kick a lot in training camp and has the chance to catch on with the Broncos' practice squad.
--The Broncos signed cornerback Willie Middlebrooks, a former first-round pick of the team. Middlebrooks never worked out after being Denver's top pick in 2001. He never could stay healthy and rarely contributed on defense. He was traded to San Francisco for defensive end John Engelberger before training camp last season.
But Middlebrooks became a very good special-teams player and could make the team in that role.
--As expected, receiver Ashley Lelie was a no show to the Broncos' passing camp in mid-May, which is not mandatory. Lelie is unhappy in Denver and wants a trade.
If Lelie doesn't come to camp, David Terrell would get the chance to be Denver's third receiver.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm very excited to where I dropped to in Denver. It is such a first-class organization." -- Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who slipped to Denver in the fourth round of the draft.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): S Chris Young.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: WR Charlie Adams; LB Louis Green.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Sam Brandon; LB Keith Burns; LB Patrick Chukwurah; RB Ron Dayne; DE John Engelberger; LS/TE Mike Leach; OT Matt Lepsis; DT Demetrin Veal; DT Gerard Warren.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DE Kenard Lang; CB Willie Middlebrooks; WR Javon Walker; LB Nate Webster.
PLAYERS LOST: RB Mike Anderson; DE Marco Coleman; DT Monsanto Pope; DE Trevor Pryce; TE Jeb Putzier.