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News » Where do Broncos go from here?

Where do Broncos go from here?

Where do Broncos go from here?
In the end no sticks and stones were needed, because the words, even those unspoken, have hurt plenty.

With a 65-word statement sent along Tuesday evening, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen ended the team's battered relationship with Jay Cutler, a franchise quarterback who Bowlen had said was "the man around here'' in January when he introduced Josh McDaniels as the team's new head coach.

Bowlen said: "Numerous attempts to contact Jay Cutler in the last 10 days, both by head coach Josh McDaniels and myself, have been unsuccessful. A conversation with his agent earlier (Tuesday) clearly communicated and confirmed to us that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos. We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded."

And with that the Broncos are shopping a quarterback coming off his first 4,000-yard season and first Pro Bowl appearance, leaving a major question mark on their future. After all Cutler was the quarterback they repeatedly said would be the post-Elway cornerstone in their efforts to end a three-year drought without a playoff trip and a decade since their last Super Bowl win.

At its root, according to all involved, is a disagreement over words, over ideals and over the turmoil that can come with the kind of change Bowlen started when he fired Mike Shanahan after the season, who had been the team's coach for 14 years.

Cutler and his agent, Bus Cook, believe the Broncos actively shopped Cutler when free agency opened in late February, that it was the team that opened the discussions. McDaniels has only publicly said the team simply listened to trade proposals that would have sent Matt Cassel to the Broncos and Cutler to the Buccaneers as part of a three-way deal.


Ironically, like Cutler, Simms has long been a Shanahan favorite. Shanahan routinely, in a private setting, would say he believed Simms had the potential to be an impact starter in the league.

McDaniels certainly would like a quarterback with Cutler's kind of arm, but he's also looking to shave plenty of turnovers off the Broncos' total in '08. Cutler threw 18 interceptions last season for a team that saw its running game disappear in a flurry of injuries that put seven running backs on injured reserve.

And Cutler was a risk taker — by necessity when he was the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year his senior year for an perpetually undermanned Vanderbilt team — and with the hearty endorsement from Shanahan as a Broncos starter.

One of the reasons Shanahan made the move to Cutler from Jake Plummer with five games to play in 2005 was he believed Cutler could deliver the ball downfield from the pocket, whereas Plummer did not. Shanahan continually lauded Cutler's attempts "to make a play down the field instead of just trying to pad his stats. Anybody can do that. Not everybody can throw it down there like he can.''

And with the offense expected to be mostly two tight-end set on run downs — McDaniels doesn't run much two-back — the Broncos' new coach is looking for efficiency from his quarterback when it's time to pass. New England's Tom Brady threw just eight interceptions in his record-setting season in '07 and just 12 in '06, topping 500 attempts in both seasons.

The Broncos do have the 12th pick of the draft, but the pool of quarterbacks ready to come in and play is considered shallow. Georgia's Matthew Stafford will be long gone, but even if he wasn't his profile as a strong-armed player willing to throw into coverage to make a play is of the Cutler mold.

USC's Mark Sanchez has the measurables, but has only one year as a starter in a loaded offense. But he, too, may have shown enough in his workouts to have played himself higher on the board than the 12th slot.

Beyond those two almost every other quarterback on the board, including fellow first-rounder Josh Freeman of Kansas State, is either trying to make the difficult transition from a spread offense to a more traditional look that requires improved footwork, or has a significant hole in his game that will need repairing.

The Lions, who have the No. 1 pick overall as well as No. 20 in the first round, have many needs and may be willing to part with one of those picks — including the top pick — if they make the decision they will not take a quarterback this time around. They held a private workout with Stafford Tuesday and had dinner with him at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz had also planned an extended visit to Athens, Ga., before the draft as well to get to know Stafford better.

The Broncos run their first minicamp April 17-19, so they can test Simms in 11-on-11 situations for the first time and see just how quickly they'll have to make a move with two weeks remaining before the draft.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 1, 2009

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Mason Unck Name: Mason Unck
Position: LB
Age: 27
Experience: 4 years
College: Arizona State
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