Jay Cutler appears to be a potential backup option for the San Francisco 49ers, if the team can’t land the big-fish QB it seeks via trade.
More specifically, according to Jason Cole’s Insider Buzz at Bleacher Report, two sources have indicated that the 49ers will target Cutler if they are unable to acquire New England’s backup Jimmy Garoppolo or Washington’s Kirk Cousins in a trade.
The Bears, as you undoubtedly know by now, have been connected to Garoppolo for a while.
Cole says Cutler is expected to be cut by the Bears this offseason, meaning that he would be available to any team in the market for a quarterback and would likely come at a substantial discount (at least compared to the $16 million base salary he would earn if acquired via trade). And NFL reporter Jason La Canfora tweets the Bears are “eager to move on from Cutler” this offseason.
Evidently, Cutler’s ties with the Shanahan family are still strong after Kyle’s (the current head coach of the 49ers) father Mike (former head coach of the Broncos) drafted Cutler in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Also consider that the new 49ers GM, John Lynch, was fond of Cutler back in 2009. In other words, the connections are there.
But, for what it’s worth, Kyle Shanahan also reportedly liked Garoppolo coming out of Eastern Illinois University when he was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator in 2014. And as we know, the Patriots still seem to still be interested in trading their top backup, Garoppolo, because his value has never been higher.
Of course, it’s not just between Cutler and Garoppolo. Shanahan also worked with Kirk Cousins for two of the three years in which he served as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator. Cousins played in eight games and made four starts in those two years, throwing eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in limited duty. Washington could slap the franchise tag on Cousins again this offseason, but that doesn’t mean a trade would be out of the question.
If all else fails for the 49ers (i.e. Garoppolo and Cousins), Cutler seems like an ideal fit for a team (like San Francisco) looking to stabilize the QB position with a veteran presence without completely mortgaging its future.
From the Bears’ perspective, it’s likely that they’d love to be able to move Cutler in trade, even for a 6th or 7th round draft pick. But with $16 million salary for 2017, and a mere $2 million cap hit to release him, teams will presumably continue to anticipate that Cutler will eventually hit the free agent market.