How realistic is Cutler to the Lions?
Now that Jay Cutler's trade demands are official, it's time to examine the Lions' realistic hopes of trading for Denver's disgruntled quarterback. I still think the Broncos will end up keeping him. Young arms like that are too precious to pass on for a few draft picks. But if Cutler's dealt, here, in my mind, are the five most likely landing spots for him in 2010:
1. Cleveland: I'll put the Browns No. 1 only because they have the quarterbacks to satisfy Denver's demand. If reports are true that Eric Mangini isn't thrilled with either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, Denver can have its pick of young signal callers in return. The Browns also have two second-round choices (the extra came from the Kellen Winslow trade) and an early first to barter with, but no third- fifth- or seventh-round selection. Next year's picks could come into play.
2. Detroit: The Lions have the picks (two firsts, a second and two thirds), but not the quarterback to land Cutler. I can't see a three-way with Cleveland happening because the Browns might want Cutler themselves. Arizona's Matt Leinart is a possibility, but he'll take a draft pick (a third, probably) to land. The Lions don't have fourth- or fifth-round choices, and they've said they want to get younger (though the signing of Grady Jackson and trades for Anthony Henry and Julian Peterson fly in the face of that) and build through the draft. Moving too many choices means once again the organization is straying from its plan. One other note here: For those who say Matt Stafford and the No. 1 pick are the trump card, I have a hard time seeing Denver unload a young quarterback who's locked up fairly cheaply for a younger, more unproven quarterback it'd have to give $35 million guaranteed to.
3. Tampa Bay: The Bucs, like the Lions, tried to make the Matt Cassel-Jay Cutler three-way happen only to see Cassel end up in Kansas City for a second-round pick. Tampa needs a quarterback and is willing to pay. The Bucs pick one spot in front of the Lions in the mid-first and third rounds (Nos. 19 and 81), and have the cap room to give Cutler the new deal he desires.
4. San Francisco: At pick No. 10, the 49ers might have the most desirable choice in the first round. The Broncos wouldn't have to pay obscene money, would still get a premium talent and could probably land their quarterback of the future in Mark Sanchez (or possibly even Stafford; especially if the Lions don't go QB at No. 1). If the 49ers, who brought Kurt Warner in for a visit, are serious about upgrading at quarterback, they have a full compliment of draft picks to work with and a compensatory choice or two coming their way that might make their regular picks easier to part with.
5. New York Jets: New coach Rex Ryan isn't tied to any of the project quarterbacks currently on New York's roster, and that demanding organization is in win-now mode. That could be a dangerous combination if Cutler-to-the-highest-bidder materializes. It's unlikely Kellen Clemens would satisfy Denver's demand for a new quarterback, but the Broncos could sign a veteran like Jeff Garcia as a stopgap. The Jets also have a valuable first-round choice at No. 17 and an interesting history with Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, who just so happens to represent the quarterback who was at the center of a similar drama last year Brett Favre.