Analysis: McDaniels needs Cutler

When a failed attempt to trade Jay Cutler was exposed, Broncos fans shot back at their new head coach, which could force the team to keep Cutler from becoming a Viking in the near future.

For those who were getting their hopes up that Jay Cutler could somehow end up a Viking, new Denver coach Josh McDaniels likely shot down any hope of that Tuesday.

McDaniels, already under fire with Broncos fans after word leaked that he was interested in bringing in former Patriots QB Matt Cassel, was about as blunt as he could be when contacted by NFL Network. He didn't leave much wiggle room in his statement about Cutler's status with the team.

"Let me be as clear as I can about this," McDaniels said. "We are not trading Jay Cutler. Period."

McDaniels is facing his first crisis as head coach before his first game. The former Patriots assistant and current Denver head coach got off to a dismal start with both Cutler and Broncos fans when word leaked that the Broncos were potentially looking at a three-way trade that would bring Cassel to Denver to run the recently-installed New England offense and trade Cutler to minimize the damage.

Where the Vikings became part of the rumor was due to need and proximity of the Vikings' first-round pick. As the story goes, the Patriots would have shipped Cassel to the Broncos, Denver would have sent Cutler to the Vikings and Minnesota's first-round draft pick would have been moved to the Patriots. If there was any validity to that rumor, it got further from reality when the Vikings made a move on Sage Rosenfels, giving up just a fourth-round pick to get a QB to compete for the starting job with Tarvaris Jackson.

Cutler was none too pleased when he got wind of the trade rumors and, as of yet, has refused to meet with McDaniels and other Broncos front office staff to clear the air. Instead, he has dug in his heels and said he wants to be traded. McDaniels tried to put out that fire Tuesday with his pledge not to trade Cutler. "Period." And then came word that the Broncos are supposed to meet with Cutler next week.

Ordinarily, you could dismiss such talk as being the result of the standard smokescreen put out by organizations during free agency and prior to the draft. But, given the situation – McDaniels being on the job for less than two months and facing the ridicule of fans and potentially his new team – he has to prove he is a man of his word.

If the Broncos ever had any serious intent of moving Cutler, with that rumored plan being exposed, it all got blown up right in McDaniels' face. He has been embarrassed and humbled by the experience. While other coaches could claim that they have a plan in the future for their quarterback (i.e. Brad Childress and his comments at the Combine about Gus Frerotte coming back), McDaniels isn't in such a position with the Broncos. He needs to build trust and apparently that will center on keeping Cutler in Denver. "Period."


  • The Matt Birk road tour began in about the worst place it could for the Vikings when he went to Baltimore. The Ravens have yet to make a significant free-agent splash. Their only signing to date has been overpaying for CB Domonique Foxworth. In the meantime, they lost starting center Jason Brown to the Rams, who spent monster bucks to lure him away. In the opening days of free agency, former Ravens defensive coordinator and current Jets head coach Rex Ryan was already able to get LB Bart Scott, CB Corey Ivy and safety Jim Leonhard to join him with the Jets. The Ravens have taken a bunch of hits and need something to placate fans. Bringing in a six-time Pro Bowl center could help heal some of those wounds.

  • Birk was given the Tour of Homes in the Baltimore area by the Ravens coaching staff and said he expects to make his decision on where to play by Thursday. It would seem his choice will be limited to Baltimore and Minnesota.

  • The same may be true for linebacker Heath Farwell. He is making the rounds in hopes of being more than just a special-teams ace. He wants a chance to play linebacker and has picked a pair of potential wheelhouse choices. He visited the Patriots Tuesday, who recently traded longtime starter Mike Vrabel along with Cassel to the Chiefs. Today, Farwell meets with Cleveland, where the Browns are looking to seriously upgrade their defense. The key for Farwell is that both teams run a 3-4 defense that typically carries at least two more linebackers on the 53-man roster than teams like the Vikings that run a 4-3.

  • If Farwell does leave the Vikings, their already-weak special teams could be in even more jeopardy. Farwell was being viewed as a savior for the coverage team, but he may heading out the door along with special teams ace Vinny Ciurciu, who was released Tuesday.

  • There's nothing like having a star going to bat in your defense. Not only does Darren Sharper have the luxury of having an agent who represents New Orleans stars Reggie Bush and Will Smith, he got a personal endorsement Tuesday from linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who gave the Saints front office his own sales pitch. The Saints are reportedly keeping in contact with Sharper, who is scheduled to meet with the Bears later this week if a deal isn't reached.

  • The Coast Guard has called off the search for three missing boaters, including free agent Corey Smith and Oakland's Marquis Cooper, who spent time with the Vikings in 2006. It has turned out to be a tragic end for two promising young NFL players.

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