The former Chicago Bears quarterback, who has received little interest from teams (at least as an unquestioned starter), is exploring a post-football career in broadcasting, according to multiple television sources and people with knowledge of Cutler’s thinking.
Cutler and his representatives have spoken with network executives about football-related TV roles and sources said Cutler has auditioned with at least one network in recent weeks. It’s unclear how far along Cutler is in the process and whether he’s negotiating a contract, but his audition indicates he’s serious about broadcasting.
Bus Cook, Cutler’s football agent, said Thursday the quarterback hasn’t retired and “as far as I know, he wants to play football and would play if the right offer came along.” Cook only handles Cutler’s NFL contracts, so he declined to offer any comment on his client’s broadcasting aspirations.
“You’d have to talk to Jay about that,” Cook said. “Any football player would be smart to explore his options in case he doesn’t play anymore. But Jay is as talented as any quarterback out there right now.”
Few would argue that last point. But as always with the 34-year-old Cutler, it’s about more than talent. And if a team didn’t make a strong play for him in March or April, it seems unlikely one would do so moving forward.
The New York Jets, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers were among the teams with unsettled quarterback situations headed into this offseason. The Jets contacted Cutler and at one point a visit seemed likely, but the team signed Josh McCown instead, as they were looking for a starter who could also mentor younger quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. Meanwhile, the 49ers signed veterans Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, while the Texans traded up to draft Deshaun Watson. The Browns, who took DeShone Kizer in the second round, could add a veteran at some point, though they haven’t shown much interest in Cutler.
Cutler spent eight seasons in the Windy City after being drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in 2006. He played just five games in 2016 due to injury and was released by the team on the first day of free agency. He is the Bears‘ all-time passing leader.
Cutler’s transition into TV would be an intriguing storyline because he hasn’t been the most engaging player with the media. He’s also looked downright miserable, at times, on the field and during postgame news conferences.
But Cutler has had his charismatic moments, such as his news conference following his benching in 2014. Cutler had walked out of his postgame presser that week when the media didn’t show, so at his post-benching session with reporters, he quipped, “I’m glad you guys could make it. I missed you after the game.” Cutler then proceeded to be as open and honest with the media as he’s ever been.
In late March, Cutler’s wife Kristin Cavallari posted a picture on Instagram of a naked Cutler staring at the ocean with the caption “Good times, no tan lines. Let the sea set you free.” Many inferred from the photo Cutler was pondering his retirement as he overlooked the water. Whatever he was thinking, flashing his derrière for the world led to plenty of laughs from people who had — literally and figuratively — never seen that side of Cutler before.
Should he ultimately decide to retire from playing and take up a broadcasting career, Cutler will have to display that kind of charisma as well as the ability to analyze and explain the finer details of the game for viewers. Perhaps that will be another element of surprise for the audience, as Cutler has often been criticized as a risk-taking gunslinger who lacks on-field awareness and a grasp of offensive systems. However, some who have coached him have been adamant he has a sharp football mind.
Follow Mike Garafolo on Twitter @MikeGarafolo.