There is little doubt in my mind after spending a good portion of the day working on the Jay Cutler story that the Vikings have interest in the Pro Bowl quarterback. (Credit goes to the Denver Post for first reporting this.) In fact, I would not be surprised if the Vikings were one of the teams that has made an offer to Denver for the disgruntled quarterback.
If the Broncos do decide to trade Cutler — new coach Josh McDaniels is doing his best to make everyone believe the quarterback isn’t going anywhere — the big question will be the price. In the case of Matt Cassel, I made a mistake. The Vikings were interested in Cassel and when they backed off I thought it might have been because New England was asking for too much.
But when the Patriots dealt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City on Saturday, all that went to New England was a second-round pick (34th overall selection) in the April draft. The reality is that it wasn’t the Patriots who were looking to make a killing in the Cassel sweepstakes but rather Cassel who wants a contract that would be tough to give to a player with only one year of starting experience.
Cutler is a much different story. This is a guy with a proven track record and someone the Vikings liked coming out of Vanderbilt in 2006. The Broncos, not the Vikings, traded up to the 11th overall pick to get Cutler and so far they have been rewarded. Cutler, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last spring, has been the Broncos’ starter the past two seasons. In 2008, he finished third in the NFL with 4,526 yards passing and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Cutler isn’t a one-year wonder — the fear with Cassel — and this time the asking price in a trade would be huge. But even if the Vikings are willing to meet the Broncos’ demands, and that assumes that Denver will trade Cutler, it’s not known if what Minnesota offers will be a fit. The Broncos’ backup quarterback last season was Patrick Ramsey and he is now a free agent.
Thus, if Cutler is dealt and Ramsey signs elsewhere, the Broncos won’t have a starting quarterback. The Vikings could offer one of their QBs but would Denver bite on that? Tarvaris Jackson, taken in the same draft as Cutler, and Sage Rosenfels are slated to battle for the starting job but neither one has established himself as a starter in the NFL. Does McDaniels want to enter his first season with an unproven starter?
Even if Denver feels it can find a quarterback somewhere else and listens to the Vikings, where would Rick Spielman and Co., start? The team’s first-round pick (No. 22 overall) would be a jumping off point but it certainly wouldn’t get the deal done. More draft picks and perhaps players would need to be included.
It might be far too much. Just remember, the Vikings were willing to part with a first- and two third-round picks to get Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen last April and the move proved to be a good one. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf likes to make a splash and certainly isn’t afraid to spend his money — the team’s failed attempt to land wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the latest example of this aggressive approach – and there would be no bigger move than bringing a quarterback like Cutler to Minnesota.