The news that Cutler was involved in any trade talks was surprising to Broncos fans, who had watched Cutler quickly improve in his three seasons. He made the Pro Bowl after throwing for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns last season.
But Cutler was drafted and groomed under the old regime of Mike Shanahan. Shanahan was fired and while McDaniels complimented Cutler, he didn't have the same history with the quarterback.
Now, with former Patriots quarterback and McDaniels protege Matt Cassel in Kansas City, Denver will stick with Cutler. The coaching staff will have to improve the relationship with the quarterback over the offseason.
Cutler's long-term future with the team could also be damaged, but his free agency is still a few years off. Immediately, Cutler has to learn McDaniels' system and work in sync with a head coach who will call the plays this season.
Cutler was scheduled to meet with the Broncos brass soon, which will be the first step towards reconciling the differences. Even with the many free agents the Broncos signed already, including former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, the Cutler-McDaniels relationship will likely continue to be the hot-button topic of conversation in Colorado.
--When Brandon Marshall's suspension was reduced from two games to one last year by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it's safe to say Goodell didn't want to see Marshall land in more trouble.
Even though a disorderly conduct charge against Marshall was dropped, the NFL will probably review his latest arrest. Multiple violators of the NFL's personal conduct policy haven't gotten off lightly, so the league faces a decision on whether to punish Marshall again.
--The Broncos weren't shy about getting some former Patriots on board. Head coach Josh McDaniels, who came to Denver from New England, added long-snapper Lonie Paxton, receiver Jabar Gaffney and running back LaMont Jordan to the roster in the first week of free agency. Paxton, Gaffney and Jordan all played for the Patriots last year.
--When safety Brian Dawkins signed with the Broncos, he was leaving an Eagles franchise for which he became an icon. Although he was thrilled with the new start in Denver, he admitted leaving Philadelphia was bittersweet.
"Yeah, absolutely," Dawkins said. "I can be honest with that."
--The signing of free-agent long-snapper Lonie Paxton was surprising because that position wasn't a huge need for the Broncos. Mike Leach joined the Broncos in 2002 and rarely had a bad day, becoming one of the team's most consistent performers.
But new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels obviously felt comfortable with Paxton from their days in New England. Paxton was with the Patriots since 2000.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was blessed to play for a great organization and come to another great organization." -- New Broncos safety Brian Dawkins.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The moves the Broncos made in the first week of free agency showed they were serious about infusing new talent onto a roster that missed the playoffs two straight seasons. Many needs on offense and defense were met, but there is still some work to be done.
The Broncos will be looking to add depth on the defensive front seven and could also look to add a player or two on the offensive side.
TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY
While the Broncos added plenty in free agency, the draft will still be a huge key towards rebuilding the defense. With the 12th pick the Broncos could add a linebacker or lineman that can step in and play right away.
Denver already added to the defensive line, linebacker, cornerback and safety in free agency, but it was a unit desperate for impact players. A standout linebacker like USC's Rey Maualuga or a nose tackle like B.J. Raji, if the Broncos get lucky and he falls to No. 12, could be the selection.
1. Defensive line: Even with the addition of a couple of free agent defensive tackles in Darrell Reid and Ronald Fields, the Broncos need more. The line was bare, and was especially thin with players that can play in a 3-4 scheme.
2. Linebacker: Andra Davis was a solid addition, but the Broncos could use some more depth at linebacker. If they don't sign another linebacker, that position could be a target with some early-round draft picks.
3. Cornerback: Denver added Andre' Goodman to the mix, and he will replace Dre Bly. Still, the team needs to get younger at the position and add depth for its nickel and dime packages.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--RB Tatum Bell finished the season with a good game against San Diego, but with a lot of tailbacks on the roster he is no sure bet to return.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban played well in 2008 but it remains to be seen how he fits into the new staff's plans.
--WR Darrell Jackson didn't contribute much in 2008 and appears unlikely to return.
--S Marlon McCree didn't play in the final eight games of the season, remaining inactive even after recovering from a high ankle sprain. He doesn't appear to be in Denver's plans.
--C Tom Nalen is likely on his way to retirement after sitting out 2008 with a knee injury.
--CB Karl Paymah was demoted a couple of times during the season and will likely hit the open market.
--RB Michael Pittman played pretty well before a neck injury sidelined him, but he said he feels good and wants to play in Denver again. The new coaching staff will make a decision whether to bring him back.
--TE Jeb Putzier was brought in late last season because of injuries; he is unlikely to return to the team.
--WR Edell Shepherd was out all last year with a knee injury.
--QB Patrick Ramsey was a solid backup for Jay Cutler, but with the signing of Chris Simms, will probably not return.
--LB Nate Webster started last year and played well at times. The new staff will have to decide how he fits in their defense.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--RB Andre Hall (not tendered as ERFA) has played well at times and should get a shot to make the team in training camp.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--DL Kenny Peterson: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB J.J. Arrington: UFA Cardinals; $8.8M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--RB Correll Buckhalter: UFA Eagles; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Andra Davis: UFA Browns; $5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--S Brian Dawkins: UFA Eagles; $17M/5 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed; can void to $9.5M/2 yrs.
--DT Ronald Fields: UFA 49ers; $5M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--WR Jabar Gaffney: UFA Patriots; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--CB Andre' Goodman: UFA Dolphins; $25M/5 yrs, $10M guaranteed.
--S Renaldo Hill: UFA Dolphins; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--RB LaMont Jordan: UFA Patriots; $2.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--OG Matt McChesney: FA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--LS Lonie Paxton: UFA Patriots; $5.38M/5 yrs, $1M SB.
--DT Darrell Reid: UFA Colts; $6.8M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--QB Chris Simms: UFA Titans; $6M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--RB Anthony Alridge (released).
--CB Dre' Bly (released).
--DE John Engelberger (released).
--RB Alex Haynes (released).
--TE Nate Jackson (released).
--LB Niko Koutouvides (released).
--LS Mike Leach (released).
--S Marquand Manuel (released).
--TE Chad Mustard (released).
--OT Erik Pears: Not tendered as RFA/Raiders; terms unknown.
--RB P.J. Pope (released).
--DT Dewayne Robertson (released).
--WR Cliff Russell (released/failed physical).
--DT Josh Shaw (released).
--LB Jamie Winborn (released).
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