Rich's Rant: Don't Shut Denver Trade Door

The Denver Broncos took advantage of a team desperate for a quarterback in their deal with the Chicago Bears. Now, can the Browns take advantage of Denver's windfall? Rich Passan opines...

What a terrible price the Chicago Bears paid to acquire the talents of quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos Thursday.

Giving up two first-rounders, a third-rounder and quarterback Kyle Orton in exchange for Cutler and a fifth-rounder is just insane enough to wonder what the hell Bears were thinking.

Credit Broncos owner Pat Bowlen with legal larceny. Both hands were showing as he swindled the Bears, who have been starving for a great quarterback since Hall of Famer Sid Luckman led the Monsters of the Midway nearly 70 years ago.

The deal just perpetuates the notion that stupidity always runs rampant throughout the National Football League. Fortunately, it didn't pay a visit to the Fort Berea Bunker this time.

But just because Cutler is gone and everyone seems happy, except those suitors who believed they could land him, let's not discount the possibility of the Browns remaining on course with the Broncos.

If I'm Eric Mangini and George Kokinis, I'm on the phone with Bowlen asking him how comfortable he is with Orton as his starting quarterback.

I'm asking him if his coach, Josh McDaniels, is truly at ease with Orton handling the huddle this season in Denver.

The lanky quarterback from Purdue has had a shaky career in the NFL. He has shown it doesn't take much to shake his confidence. Is that the kind of quarterback McDaniels wants?

It is entirely possible, however, that McDaniels believes he can transform Orton into something more than a journeyman type quarterback who has trouble making the difficult throws. After all, Orton did have a very productive collegiate career.

It is entirely possible McDaniels believes that if he can turn Matt Cassel into a good quarterback, as he did last season in New England when Tom Brady went down in the season opener, Orton should be easy.

Cassel was nothing more than a career backup in college and the NFL until McDaniels went Prof. Henry Higgins on him. (My Fair Lady reference for you Broadway fans.) He nearly took the Patriots to the playoffs.

But the prospect of landing Brady Quinn might give McDaniels some pause. There is a common bond, both men having learned offensive football under Charlie Weis.

It would be surprising if that doesn't translate into some sort of meaningful dialogue with the Broncos. Again, if I'm Mangini/Kokinis, I would dangle Quinn or at least explore the possibility with Bowlen. McDaniels would at the very least give a listen.

Opening the season with a quarterback tandem of Orton and Quinn, or Quinn and Orton, would give the Broncos probably the best depth at that position in the NFL.

And all it would take is a first-round pick. Quinn for the Broncos' second pick in the first round (No. 18), the one they received from the Bears. That way, they'd still keep their first pick this year (No. 12), the Bears' first pick next season and still have Quinn, who would certainly be better than anyone they would get at No. 18 this year.

If they could pull off that swap, Mangini/Kokinis would be more than justified picking off a quarterback with the fifth pick of the lottery. Someone like, say, Mark Sanchez of Southern California.

That would fit right in with the Mangini plan. He is definitely taking large steps in stamping his label on the Browns. Has anyone noticed how quickly the Phil Savage guys are disappearing?

Quinn and Derek Anderson are Savage guys. Sanchez, if this all plays out, would be a Mangini guy.

This is not to intimate this will happen. But the landscape is such that it is hard to believe the Broncos are willing to play an entire season with Orton as their quarterback.

Following Cutler, whose star was rising rapidly in Denver, will not be easy for Orton, who will always be known as the guy the Broncos received in the controversial trade. The pressure to succeed will be almost as high for him as it was for Aaron Rodgers, who succeeded Brett Favre in Green Bay.

Rodgers was following a legend, of course. But Cutler had developed a large following in Denver and his rapid departure stunned his fans.

Quinn would not face that kind of pressure since he would be a byproduct of the deal and the fans' expectations would not be nearly as great. At least not at first.

If the Browns can't convince the Broncos a deal for Quinn is the best way to go, the Browns' status remains quo and Mangini's pronouncement of a training-camp battle this summer remains intact.

I can live with that, too.

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