the sports section

The Jets Have a Hankering for Quarterback Jay Cutler

The New York Jets weren’t exactly weeping openly when Brett Favre decided to retire — new coach Rex Ryan admitted yesterday that he’s never even met Favre — but his exodus did leave them with an issue: They didn’t have any quarterbacks left (unless you’re counting Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff, which, clearly, the team isn’t). They had toyed with trading for the Browns’ Derek Anderson and are meeting with USC’s Mark Sanchez tomorrow, whom they could take with the draft’s seventeenth pick. But a franchise quarterback might have just fallen in their lap.

As anyone who has dared to watch any NFL-related programming in the last month knows, Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler is furious with new coach Josh McDaniels for having “discussions” about being traded for Matt Cassell (since shipped to Kansas City), and has demanded to be moved out of Denver. The Broncos are still holding out hope the rift can be mended, but Cutler isn’t: He said as recently as last week that he’s still eager to get out of town. And yesterday, the Jets finally admitted to the Daily News that they’d like to take him.

The price tag for Cutler — a potential franchise quarterback about to enter his prime — would be onerous, likely requiring the Jets’ first-round pick this year and probably one or two more down the line. And Cutler will have other suitors, particularly the Buccaneers and the Bears. But it’s difficult to find a team in which Cutler would be a better fit: Big market, new management, total dedication to him as face of the franchise, which, as sensitive as he’s shown himself to be in Denver, would seem to be vital.

There are still those, like Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who think Denver won’t ultimately end up trading Cutler, but that assumes that Cutler will eventually back down on his trade demands, which so far seems unlikely. If he’s going to be traded, the Jets are as likely, and perhaps more likely, than anyone to get him, and now that they’ve publicly stated interest, they’re surely accelerating the whole process. The central drama of the NFL off season now involves the Jets and a quarterback for the second year in a row. Unlike Favre, Cutler would be around a lot longer than one year.

The Jets Have a Hankering for Quarterback Jay Cutler