By Chris Emma

By Chris Emma–

(CBS) Should the Dolphins be forced to shut down starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, there’s a logical fit out there for coach Adam Gase’s team.

He’s Jay Cutler, the former Bears quarterback who moved into retirement after being released by Chicago in March. The indications since he was released were that Cutler would only return to the playing field if he was given the opportunity to start, and that could be available in Miami.

Tannehill suffered a left knee injury in Thursday’s practice. Tannehill previously had a partially torn ACL in the same knee but didn’t have it repaired, leaving liability that an injury could re-occur. There’s no ligament damage this time, but the Dolphins must either shut down Tannehill for season-ending surgery or allow the knee to heal for six to eight weeks, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Backup Matt Moore has moved into the starting spot for the Dolphins, at least for now. While 15-13 in 28 games as a starter, Moore has mostly been a backup during his nine-year NFL career.

That opens the door for Cutler, who had his most efficient season under the guidance of Gase as his offensive coordinator in 2015, when he completed 64.4 percent of his passes and threw for 3,659 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Cutler has started 139 career games, including 102 with the Bears.

During that 2015 season together, Cutler and Gase continued to offer credit to each other, and their solid relationship was clear. Gase was hired to the Dolphins after that season because of his reputation as a successful young offensive coordinator, a reputation strengthened by his rapport with Cutler.

Other names remain on the free-agent market, including Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick, both of whom could fit well for the Dolphins’ sudden void. First in Miami, a decision on Tannehill’s health must be made.

Cutler could be the best pairing with Gase, offering the Dolphins the chance to reach the playoffs for a second straight season.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Watch & Listen LIVE