Perhaps the most interesting current storyline in the NFL - yes, even more fascinating than the circus surrounding new Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens - is the fiasco unfolding between the new-look Denver Broncos and quarterback Jay Cutler. First, new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels tried to trade for Matt Cassel, a quarterback that eventually ended up with division rival Kansas City. Then Cutler heard about it. Then he complained about it until McDaniels met with him and told him he had no regrets. Now Cutler has asked to be traded.
Suddenly, Terrell Owens isn't looking so controversial.
Needless to say, since the Bills have had quarterback issues since Jim Kelly donned the logo, Bills fans everywhere are drooling at the notion of a potential trade for Cutler. Now that speculation is being fueled by the fact that Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, is reportedly in Buffalo. I'm not usually one to write about topics that have no basis in reality, but this one is just too topical and too interesting to pass up. After all - there are a lot of reasons to believe that a deal, even while falling in the "incredibly unlikely" category, could happen. Before we start doing this little comparison, keep one thing in mind: until we hear real, actual confirmation that the Bills have interest in Cutler - and I'll go on record as calling that more unlikely than likely at this point - Trent Edwards remains the face and future of this franchise.
#5 / Quarterback / Buffalo Bills
Oct 30, 1983
Edwards is entering his third season in the league. He has started 23 games through his first two seasons, amassing a 12-11 record in those starts. Edwards does everything by the book. He's a coach's dream - extremely hard-working, a leader by example, studious, sharp as a tack and shows a constant willingness to learn and re-learn his craft. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better fit for Dick Jauron's personality in a player this young. Edwards is headstrong and determined.
His only downfalls occur on the field. He's shown a tendency to let plays effect him on the field, letting his on-field confidence waver. Gets a little gun-shy and is very streaky. Has an NFL arm, but it isn't strong enough to overcome difficult weather conditions and allow him to take over games. Naturally talented, but not overwhelmingly so. If he's to become a consistent, productive NFL starter, he needs to get better at reading defenses, playing confidently and working within the system.
#6 / Quarterback / Denver Broncos
Apr 29, 1983
Unusually talented player. Has outstanding arm strength and underrated athleticism to keep plays alive. Can take over games on talent alone. Entering his fourth season in the league, Cutler has started 37 games in his first three years, amassing a record of 17-20 in those starts. He has been very productive, throwing 54 touchdown passes in his 37 starts and averaging 244 yards per game. However, he's also thrown 37 career interceptions, an average of one every time out.
As incredibly talented and productive as Cutler has been (he has one Pro Bowl under his belt already), his recent situation has brought his attitude into serious question. He has handled this trade situation with McDaniels incredibly poorly. Many believe that Cutler is heeding terrible advice from Cook, who has been at the center of controversies surrounding Brett Favre and Steve McNair in the past. Cutler is a smart player, a hard worker and possesses top-notch intangibles, but questions remain regarding his handling of this situation and his motives behind the trade request. Broncos fans are already labeling the kid a headcase, though Cutler is still believed to be held in very high regard by both Tom Modrak and Dick Jauron.
The above is a chart of Edwards' quarterback rating versus that of Cutler for every start each player has made. Edwards' progress is represented by the red line; Cutler's, the green line. There isn't much significant that comes out of this analysis, but that, in itself, is significant. Cutler's sample size is larger, and he's had higher highs, but he's also had lower lows. Both quarterbacks have consistently been wildly inconsistent. Lots of peaks and valleys from both quarterbacks on that chart.
Here's where the opinion starts. I'm a self-proclaimed Trent Edwards fan (read: homer), but there's no way I can get away with saying I don't respect the heck out of Jay Cutler's game. In my view, he's a legitimate franchise signal caller that just needs some stability around him in Denver to prove it. I can merely hope that Edwards becomes that type of player, though the hope is certainly there. I'm not sure how much better Jay Cutler makes the Bills beyond the pure talent level. I am sure that he's not already the franchise signal caller that everyone seems to think he is. Cutler has not "arrived", so to speak. This kid still has work to do, not just on the field, but now in the PR department.
You are, of course, very free to formulate your own opinions. But if you're asking me, we've got our quarterback already. I love Jay Cutler's game. But I'm not sure this franchise is equipped to handle two blockbuster moves in one off-season, and I'm less sure that Cutler would be the quick fix that everyone would expect him to be in the unlikely event a trade were to occur. Either way, we'd have to do some waiting through ups and downs with both guys. I'm the type of guy who'd rather stay the course than rock the boat. I'm taking Edwards in this (non-existent?) debate. But that doesn't mean I'd cry if he was swapped for Cutler.