Arizona Cardinals Should Avoid Signing Jay Cutler
It may be tempting to sign veteran quarterback Jay Cutler, but they should resist the urge
One of the traditions of the NFL off-season is trying to predict which quarterbacks will end up playing where. The speculation gives analysts and fans something to talk about it as they wait for free agency to begin. This year is no different, and with the Arizona Cardinals needing to look to the future, they’re included in the guessing. A recent name that has been coming up is Jay Cutler.
Cutler is expected to be released by the Chicago Bears, and would, naturally, be looking for a place to play in 2017. He’s one of a few big-named veterans that figures to be on the market, and at least one well-known analyst thinks the Cardinals will be in play.
In his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback Column, Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King predicted that Cutler will wind up in Arizona. His reasoning is sound.
Name the counter-culture coach who likes to take shots on guys hated by lots of down-the-middle coaches and GMs, who is the biggest proponent of the deep ball of any coach in football, and who may need said deep ball thrower because his quarterback turns 38 this year.
Cutler does have the arm and gunslinger attitude that could make him attractive to Head Coach Bruce Arians. Those are staple throws in Arizona, and that’s important. The team also needs a replacement for Carson Palmer, as this is probably Palmer’s last season. However, there are just as many reasons to avoid signing Cutler.
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First of all, Cutler is not young. He’ll be 34 years old well before the season starts, and with Palmer returning, he’d be 35 before he’s actually needed, barring a Palmer injury. He might be good for a season or two, that’s about it.
The second thing to note is that Cutler has been even more of a turnover machine than Palmer. In his last full season, Cutler threw 11 interceptions and lost five fumbles. In 2014 he had 18 picks and lost 6 fumbles. Palmer was criticized for having too many turnovers. Cutler doesn’t help in that area.
Cutler has had a few rough seasons lately, including being injured last year, but he isn’t going to come cheap. The money used to sign him could be used to re-sign a valuable defensive player like Calais Campbell or Tony Jefferson. It could also go to an outside free agent at a position of bigger need for 2017.
One other factor in this is the potential of a quarterback from the draft. If the Cardinals draft one of the top prospects this year, he’ll sit behind Palmer for a year with an eye on taking over in 2018. Setting the team up for long-term success is a much better solution than aiming for a couple of years of a quarterback who hasn’t proven to be a big-game player.
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There will be teams interested in Cutler if he’s released. The skill-set he brings certainly matches what the Cardinals like to do, but the timing doesn’t make sense. With Palmer back, adding another big-named veteran, like Cutler, is the wrong move. Instead, keep improving the defense, and use the draft set up for the future. That’s the smart play.