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The Jay Cutler Rumors Strike Back

Posted by Matt Terl on April 1, 2009 – 2:19 pm

After just under two weeks of relative calm, the rumors of disgruntled Broncos QB Jay Cutler becoming a Redskin picked up steam again today, mainly because the Broncos have decided that they’ve had enough of the guy and are throwing him on the open market. And when a superstar player goes on the open market, guess where he’s inevitably linked.

Actually, in Charles Robinson’s initial roundup of the likely Cutler destinations last night on Yahoo Sports, he doesn’t list the Redskins in his top seven (although he does acknowledge that ProFootballTalk is rumoring a Cutler-to-D.C. move). Four hours later, though, Robinson has the Redskins solidly on his expanded list of Cutler’s possible suitors.

This would be Dan Snyder all the way, and he’s sending some signals that would make Washington obvious contenders. First, he has declined to extend current starter Jason Campbell, who is entering the last year of his deal, showing the team still isn’t sold that he’s a long-term answer. Second, Snyder was on hand when the Redskins worked out USC’s Mark Sanchez, a clear indicator that Washington has more than a faint interest in exploring other options. In Washington’s favor, it has a solid No. 1 pick to offer, and Campbell could be part of a deal as well. Working against the Redskins are other teams with better draft picks to offer, and Campbell’s skills don’t fit in the system the Broncos will run under McDaniels.

USA Today’s The Huddle blog agrees, listing the Redskins as one of five teams “Hot On Cutler’s Trail”:

Washington Redskins: An intriguing option in that the Redskins can offer the best starting-ready QB in a two-team deal. Current Washington starter Jason Campbell was probably the MVP of the first half last season, and would offer the Broncos a stable, if not top-tier, signal caller. Cutler would appease Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s indulgence in star players. And the Redskins can offer the 13th pick in this year’s draft.

And the Denver Post lists the Redskins “among the leading candidates” for the dissatisfied QB.

The Redskins have a proven young quarterback in Jason Campbell and would meet the Broncos’ preference of dealing Cutler outside their American Football Conference. The Redskins also have the No. 13 selection in this year’s draft on April 25, one spot behind the Broncos.

So far, it’s all just somewhat arbitrary speculation, and no one here has said anything yet to make me believe that anything about the team’s position has actually changed since that last go around two weeks ago. That said, it’s an awful lot of speculation — enough to make me wonder whether such a trade would even make sense.

Here are their career statlines:

Jason Campbell: over 36 career games, has completed 59.7% of his passes for 7,242 yards (6.5 yard average), with 35 touchdowns over 23 interceptions for a career QB rating of 80.4. Last year — his first full season as a starter — it was 3,245 yards, 13 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a rating of 84.3

Jay Cutler: over 37 career games, has completed 62.5% of his passes for 9,024 yards (7.4 yard average), with 54 touchdowns over 37 interceptions for a career QB rating of 87.1. Last year, Cutler passed for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, a rating of 86.0, and an AFC Pro Bowl berth.

So it’s down to what quarterbacking style you prefer. Campbell’s more careful style results in fewer flashy plays, fewer touchdowns, and — last year, at least — markedly fewer interceptions. But that’s not what people are going to be focusing on when and if a trade is being worked out; the statistics they’ll focus on are the 4,526 yards and the 25 touchdowns, and those seem to dictate that a straight up trade is out of the question.

So the question you have to ask isn’t just “Would you give up Campbell for Cutler,” but rather something more along the lines of “Would you give up Campbell, the thirteenth pick in the draft, and another pick or player for Cutler?” And I suspect that — if this deal is actually being considered — that’s at least what it’s going to come down to.

So would you do it? Rich Tandler says yes, fairly emphatically:

Jay Cutler’s Broncos have a record of 13-1 when they give up fewer than 21 points.

Do the math.

The Redskins need to get Jay Cutler.

Not at any price. Their 2009 and 2010 first-round picks are too much. But if Denver wants the 2010 #1, Jason Campbell, and maybe second-day selection this year?

Boom, just do it.

How about if Denver asks for this year’s first and Campbell? I try to get back a second or third this year or next but if that’s what it takes I do it.

I think that Jason Campbell is going to have a monster year next year, personally — it’s a contract year, it’s his second year in the system, and he had a better-than-solid start last year that I think he’ll build on — plus he’s an enormously likeable guy, where Cutler, at least based on appearances, is a bit on the sulky side (to say the least). But Cutler has the potential to be the sort of every-year statistical-beast, franchise quarterback that the Redskins haven’t had (Brad Johnson’s 1999 campaign aside) since Joe Theismann or Sonny Jurgensen, depending on how you rank those guys.

It’s a tough call, and I’m really not at all sure that the potential improvement is worth the cost. Assuming, of course, that’s not all just complete speculation.

What are your thoughts?

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