Broncos Update Insider - 4/5

With one short statement from Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, the direction of his franchise shifted. Two days later, franchise quarterback Jay Cutler was headed to Chicago.

The departure of Cutler from the Broncos began when he was involved in trade talks and wasn't pleased. He and coach Josh McDaniels couldn't patch things up in a month, although McDaniels said he wanted Cutler as his quarterback. That changed abruptly with an announcement on March 31.

"Numerous attempts to contact Jay Cutler in the last 10 days, both by head coach Josh McDaniels and myself, have been unsuccessful," Bowlen said in a statement. "A conversation with his agent earlier today clearly communicated and confirmed to us that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."

Bowlen said the team would look into trade possibilities. There was plenty of interest for a 25-year-old quarterback who threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns last season.

Chicago landed Cutler for a package including a pair of first-round picks, including one in 2010, and quarterback Kyle Orton.

The Broncos lose a Pro Bowl quarterback just entering his prime but did get a lot in return. They now hold the 12th and 18th picks of the draft, which could be used to shore up a couple of defensive holes or one of the picks could be used on a quarterback for the future. Orton is likely a stopgap option, although he did look good at times last year with Chicago.

Giving up a franchise quarterback is difficult, especially one that just completed his third season, but the Broncos apparently felt the situation could not be fixed. They moved quickly once they announced Cutler was on the block, completing a trade in less than 48 hours.

Public sentiment in Denver had turned a bit on Cutler as the saga drew on and the quarterback didn't participate in offseason workouts and didn't seem open to working things out in Denver. Cutler requested a trade in March.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler expressed surprise to Foxsports.com that the team had moved so quickly to look into trading opportunities with him, and regret over the situation.

--"I really didn't want this," Cutler said a day before he was traded to Chicago, according to the site. "I love Denver. I really like my teammates. I didn't want it to get this far."

--Receiver Brandon Marshall will miss the rest of the offseason program because of hip surgery. The surgery, which was first reported by the Denver Post, traces back to an injury that affected Marshall late last season.

--The Broncos were saddened by the passing of Lou Saban on March 29. Saban was Denver's coach and general manager from 1967-71.

"Lou Saban should be credited as the individual who first brought respectability to the Denver Broncos during his five seasons as head coach in the late 1960s," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement. "Even though I was not here at the time, upon buying the Broncos in 1984 I began learning the history of the club and realized Lou's importance to this franchise."

--Denver released running back Cory Boyd, who was brought in late last season because of numerous injuries at tailback. The team's signings at running back, including Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan, made Boyd expendable.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded." -- Broncos owner Pat Bowlen on quarterback Jay Cutler.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The trade of Jay Cutler changed Denver's entire draft plan. They now have an extra first-round pick, the 18th overall, and a need for a long-term answer at quarterback.

Denver also holds the 12th pick of the draft. The team has many needs on defense, so the Broncos will have to decide whether to draft a rookie to sit and learn behind Kyle Orton and Chris Simms.

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The addition of Chicago's Kyle Orton at quarterback helps ease the short-term issue at the position following the trade of Jay Cutler. Finding a franchise quarterback is still a top priority, as is fixing many holes on defense.

The Broncos could use help on the defensive line, linebacker and in the secondary. Denver has two picks in the top 18 of this year's draft, which should yield at least one impact player on defense.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Quarterback: This is the most important position in the NFL, and the Broncos have to figure out what their best option is. Kyle Orton and Chris Simms are on the roster, but that doesn't mean Denver wouldn't look into drafting a potential franchise quarterback like USC's Mark Sanchez if he is available.

2. Defensive line: The Broncos still need some reinforcements at tackle and end, and are likely to invest in both positions in the draft.

3. Linebacker: Denver has some intriguing players at linebacker and a star in D.J. Williams, but more help is needed. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Broncos invest a high draft pick at linebacker.



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