PHOENIX – As Jay Cutler left his berth with the Bears, the links of him to myriad other NFL teams immediately began. And have gone nowhere, this despite a league-wide shortage of actual quarterbacks.
Not that this carries any import for the Bears, unless he winds up in the NFC North somewhere, but the question would then be: Why?
One notion that refuses to disappear around the NFL owners meetings, including thoughts of coaches, is that no one is really sure Cutler even wants to keep playing. If Cutler clearly wanted to continue life as an NFL quarterback, the answers to "does he want to play?" would presumably be variations of a strong "Yes" but those weren't to be had.
"I can't answer that. It's a question for him," said Adam Gase, who as Bears offensive coordinator got the best out of Cutler in 2015 before himself leaving to become the head coach the Miami Dolphins. Gase was in touch with Cutler after the quarterback's release by the Bears, texting Cutler and offering him any advice on possible new team situations.
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But Gase didn't offer a job even with incumbent Ryan Tannehill coming off a season-ending ACL injury. "I never brought up anything about coming with us, because I like our situation," Gase said. "I love Jay but I like our situation."
The New York Jets considered Cutler, then opted instead to bring in his former backup Josh McCown. The San Francisco 49ers looked at Cutler before signing two of his other backups: Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.
Maybe it's money. Cutler was set to make $12.5 million this year in Chicago and teams could be reluctant to offer a fraction of that and risk an attitude problem.
But Cutler himself contributed to the vagueness narrative when he was once asked, not that long ago, why he didn't have or seek commercial endorsements. "Starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears" is by definition a high "Q" factor regardless of his personal magnetism or lack of same, but Cutler answered the question that everyone knew pretty much what he made, and that he didn't need the money at the expense of time with his young family.
That may be the message teams outside of Chicago are still hearing.