ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –
Jay Cutler says he wants to break up. The Denver Broncos say they want to make up.
The Pro Bowl quarterback was a no-show on Monday for coach Josh McDaniels’ first team meeting and the start of the Broncos’ offseason workouts, and if he gets his way, he’ll never step foot in the team’s training facility again.
“The Denver Broncos confirm that Jay Cutler has requested a trade,” team spokesman Jim Saccomano told The Associated Press on Monday.
McDaniels declined interview requests after telling The Denver Post that he wanted to meet again with Cutler to try to resolve their differences before he considers a trade.
McDaniels briefly addressed his broiling quarterback controversy when he gathered his team as a group for the first time Monday morning.
“He just addressed it and said, ‘I’ll take care of it,'” recounted defensive lineman Kenny Peterson.
Cutler is upset that the Broncos tried to trade him for New England quarterback Matt Cassel last month and what he considers McDaniels’ misleading answers to his inquiries about those discussions.
So, he asked for a trade through his agent, Bus Cook, who engineered Brett Favre’s departure from Green Bay last summer.
The Broncos declined interview requests Monday for McDaniels, general manager Brian Xanders and owner Pat Bowlen. Cook didn’t return calls to The AP.
The sides met face-to-face for the first time Saturday and Cutler came away convinced McDaniels wanted someone else under center while the Broncos were incredulous that the gathering didn’t result in a resolution to this nasty spat. They told Cutler they expected him to attend Monday’s meeting and workout even though it’s voluntary.
Cutler told ESPN he would attend every mandatory minicamp and training camp but would skip the offseason training program, which won’t subject him to fines.
He will, however, miss out on a $100,000 bonus if he doesn’t attend 90 percent of the workouts. Cutler is entering the fourth season of a six-year, $48 million contract he signed as a rookie.
Even though it’s voluntary, the coaches expect everyone to attend the team’s offseason program unless they have an excused absence such as newcomer Brian Dawkins, who helped the NFL Players Association elect a new executive director in Hawaii on Sunday.
“Right now we’re just running and lifting,” Peterson said. “You’d like to see everybody here. … But we’ll be all right. I mean, I got faith in the people upstairs and everything else that we’ll be just fine.”
The Broncos’ first minicamp is April 17-19, a week before the draft.
The Broncos have said for two weeks that they have no interest in trading their star quarterback, who set several team passing records last season and just played in his first Pro Bowl.
It’s looking increasingly likely, however, that trading Cutler might be the only way to resolve the dispute.
“Jay’s a great quarterback, as we all know, very good teammate, good friend of mine,” receiver Eddie Royal said. “But we’ve got to do what’s best for the team and the organization. We’ve got a great coaching staff, great guys upstairs and they’ll make the right decision.”
Cutler has been unhappy since learning that McDaniels, who was New England’s offensive coordinator the last three seasons, entertained the notion of trading him to Tampa Bay in a three-way swap that would have brought Cassel from the Patriots to Denver on Feb. 28. New England instead traded Cassel to Kansas City.
Cutler believes McDaniels misled him about those trade talks; McDaniels has said all he did was listen to the trade proposals, as he would with any player, as he tries to rebuild the once-proud franchise.
The Broncos have been the NFL’s most active team in free agency, signing 15 players, including quarterback Chris Simms, who signed for two years and $6 million, ostensibly to serve as Cutler’s backup.
Peterson said the players aren’t dwelling on the controversy.
“I mean, honestly we’ve been there all morning, not one person has said anything about it,” Peterson said. “… We’re worried about what we’ve got to run tomorrow versus what’s going on.”
Although the snit with Cutler and his refusal to show up Monday could serve to undermine the 32-year-old coach’s authority, Peterson said McDaniels commanded the room.
“I don’t care if he’s 20, 40, 50, 60 years old, you’re the head coach. You’re going to get the respect. No question about it,” Peterson said.
Newly signed cornerback Andre’ Goodman said McDaniels asked the players not to talk about what he said in the meeting regarding Cutler.
Still, there was a major void in the room with Cutler missing, Goodman said.
“I think the quarterback is the face of the team,” Goodman said. “You take the coach out of it and he is the face of the team.”
Perhaps subconsciously, Royal slipped into the past tense when speaking about Cutler.
“As you know, he was a great competitor, you always saw in his eye that he wanted to win, came to practice prepared every day,” Royal said. “So, you knew what you were getting out of Jay.”
The question now is whether the Broncos will get anything more out of him on the football field or by way of compensation in a trade.