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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Retrospective Look: Jay Cutler-Kyle Orton Trade

Here is a piece I wrote in the middle of the 2010 summer for my SMWW Football GM and Scouting Course. I review the trade of Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton, the context of the trade, and future possibilities.

Denver Broncos give Chicago Bears Jay Cutler, and 2009 5th round draft pick 
In return

Chicago Bears give Denver Broncos Kyle Orton, 2009 and 2010 1st round draft picks, and 2009 3rd round draft pick.

After a very successful season as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in 2008, with fill-in QB Matt Cassel at the helm, Josh McDaniels gained national attention for his abilities as a coach. During the offseason the Denver Broncos surprisingly fired their longtime coach Mike Shanahan, and hired the young Josh McDaniels from the Patriots organization. In an effort to implement the same offense he ran at New England with Tom Brady and Matt Cassel, McDaniels needed to go out and acquire a very smart QB to run his offense. With Matt Cassel on the trade block in New England, McDaniels sought to attain Cassel due to his familiarity in previous years running the very same offense. Being the complex and intricate offensive scheme it is with multiple sets and packages, McDaniels knew that the top priority would come from a management standpoint at the quarterback position, and what better way to address this need than to get someone who already knows the offense? McDaniels however failed to make this acquisition, and immediately afterwards had to deal with a disgruntled Jay Cutler who had heard of the attempted trade. Josh McDaniels understood Cutler’s extreme talent, yet felt as if the Broncos could use a different skill set from the quarterback position. With Cutler on the move, the Broncos could now get the smart quarterback they wanted in Kyle Orton, while also adding two 1st round draft picks (2009 & 2010) and a 3rd rounder (2010).

On the flipside, the Bears desperately needed a franchise quarterback whom they could build their team around in the coming years. Due to Rex Grossman’s lack of productivity following the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Bears front office decided it was time to make a move on Jay Cutler. By holding numerous draft picks, the Bears were able to acquire their franchise QB in Cutler. Bears GM Jerry Angelo’s area scout in Nashville had developed what Angelo described as a “great rapport” with Cutler. So obviously the Bears liked what they saw from Cutler early on.  Jerry Angelo went on to say of the situation, “We felt that [Cutler] is a very good person, a good leader, he had some things that happened in Denver. We recognized those, but we treated them as just speed bumps, part of the growing process. He's highly competitive, he's highly emotional. That just comes with the territory. “ The Bears got the QB they sought out by giving up a lot of draft picks and their own starting QB Kyle Orton. This trade provides extreme potential and talent to a team who has lacked in those areas at the quarterback position for the last three decades.

In retrospect a year later, I believe that both organizations have benefited from the trade. Kyle Orton has proven himself a capable leader and ran the McDaniels system very well in the 2009 NFL season; also the draft picks allowed the Broncos to upgrade the pieces around Orton. With 4 1st rounder’s in the past two drafts, the Broncos have acquired Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, Demaryius Thomas, and Tim Tebow. All in all a very smart trade for the Broncos.

For the Bears, Season 1 of the Jay Cutler Show revealed that the team has some glaring holes and weaknesses to fill. First off Cutler needs to be groomed into making smarter decisions with the football and avoid stupid mistakes; too many forced passes that led to interceptions. Secondly, the Bears need to upgrade Cutler’s weapons in the passing game from a Wide Receiver standpoint. With the cannon that Cutler has attached to his arm, he needs a deep threat badly;  Devin Hester was the team’s leading WR receiver with a mere 757 yards and only 3 TDs. One bright spot is the TE spot which is occupied by Greg Olsen; Olsen churned out 8 TDs on 60 catches and 612 yards. A healthy Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashadu look to make more of an impact as well in 2010. Nevertheless, Jerry Angelo made a brilliant move this offseason of 2010 in bringing in offensive mastermind Mike Martz. Martz hopefully can control the testy Cutler and mold him into an elite level QB for the Chicago Bears. 

It will be interesting to see how all this will pan out in the coming season, and I want to know what you guys thought about this trade? Winner? Loser? Or good for both teams? In my opinion both organizations accomplished what they were trying to do and got the players they wanted. If Mike Martz can turn a grocer stocker named Kurt Warner into a Hall-of-Famer, and an undrafted free agent named Marc Bulger into a Pro-Bowler, it will be special to see what he can do with a blue chip prospect like Jay Cutler. This will be the most talented QB he has dealt with and I bet that Cutler will perform very well this season. 

Now let's look at what happened... 
Jay Cutler in 2010, threw his least pass attempts since his 2nd half rookie season in Denver. This was possible due to the improved running attack of Matt Forte, who rushed for over a thousand yards for the 2nd time in his 3 year NFL career. Cutler dropped his interceptions from 26 down to 16, and still kept his passing TDs above 20 (23 in 2010).  Chicago finished the season 11-5 and earned the #2 seed in the NFC. The work that Lovie Smith has done as head coach, bringing in d-coordinator Rod Marinelli and o-coordinator Mike Martz, ought to be commended. The defense now is one of the most feared in the NFL, and Martz has made incredible strides in the growth of young quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler is making less mistakes, and is learning how to efficiently attack defenses. 

Josh McDaniels had a disastrous 2010 season, filled with losses and off-field distractions, culminating in his mid season termination. The Broncos finished the season 4-12, John Elway essentially became the head of the franchise, and most recently John Fox former HC of the Carolina Panthers, was named head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Kyle Orton turned in his most productive season to date; in only 13 games he threw for 20 TDs and only gave up 9 interceptions. Although he was among the NFL leaders all season long in passing categories, a late season injury led to 3 Tim Tebow starts. An apparent change at the helm is in order for the young franchise; John Elway seems likely to stick with Tebow in 2011 as his QB, and Kyle Orton will be looking for employment elsewhere. Orton is a draft day trade possibility at this point, and there could be a long calling list for Orton's talents as he proved himself to be a more than capable quarterback in 2010.


  1. Im not sure i agree since author of this seems to be on the fence but chicago bears got a quarterback that comes around every 20 years or so. i see aron rodgers and jay cutler in many nfc championship games.

  2. I liked this article because the guy talked about both sides of the trade.. Keep in mind this was before the 2010 season when he wrote the stuff about the trade. Then he put down the 2010 results. There isnt supposed to be a real opinion here I dont think. He's just reviewing the trade and showing what happened as a result. Good piece

  3. Both organizations benefited? How did the Broncos benefit? Are you on drugs?

  4. I tried to explain this in my piece, which was written last summer before this season,

    "With 4 1st rounder’s in the past two drafts, the Broncos have acquired Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, Demaryius Thomas, and Tim Tebow. All in all a very smart trade for the Broncos."

    I was simply reviewing analysis I had done previously, and comparing what I expected to what happened.

    Kyle Orton raised the level of performance of WR Brandon Lloyd, a guy who can be productive for another solid 4 years. Those 4 1st round talents make up the core of the new Broncos team. By trading away a player who didnt even want to be there, the Broncos added a lot of really solid pieces to the puzzle.

    I was on hydrocodine last week because my wisdom teeth were removed; but I thought I presented the results on both sides quite effectively. Jay Cutler's progression this season under Mike Martz was expected by me, and it shouldnt surprise everyone. He's an extraordinary talent and will only get better.