By Chris Emma—
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) – Walking into a tent just off the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene, Bears tight end Zach Miller jokingly asked reporters why they weren’t in Miami on Monday.
While the Bears work through training camp in Bourbonnais, their quarterback of the past eight years arrived with the Dolphins. The return of Jay Cutler after a brief retirement was on the minds of many at Bears camp.
“I know everybody here wishes him nothing but the best,” Bears coach John Fox said of Cutler.
Fox had texted Cutler upon learning of his decision to re-join former Bears offensive coordinator and current Dolphins coach Adam Gase in Miami.
As for Miller, he had heard the news directly from Cutler. The two remain in frequent contact, with Cutler sending Miller a text before making the move to Miami: I’m doing it.
“I knew he had a lot of football left,” Miller said of Cutler. “I’m happy to have him back in the game. Obviously, he’s a great friend of mine. To have him back in football is cool for me, because I get to watch him play. Hopefully he’ll ball out.
“They’re going to get a hell of a quarterback in my opinion — a guy who’s already been in that system and knows that system and played very well under that system.”
Cutler’s decision to sign with the Dolphins came with some persuasion from Gase, whose team needed a quarterback after Ryan Tannehill re-injured his partially torn ACL rolling out of the pocket in drills last week. It’s expected that Tannehill will miss the entire 2017 season.
The deal with Cutler is for one year and worth $10 million, with incentives built in. He had originally intended to join FOX as a game analyst, a role that would’ve brought him to the broadcast booth for the Bears’ season opener against the Falcons at Soldier Field.
Cutler was released by the Bears in March on the first day of free agency, just before the team reached a deal with veteran Mike Glennon as its new starting quarterback.
“Maybe I’ll follow it a little closer,” Glennon said of Cutler’s return. “It seems like a good opportunity for him, but I know it’s kind of a big story here in Chicago. Really no different for me, just being a normal football fan and following around the league.”
The Bears and Dolphins aren’t scheduled to play this season. They will meet in 2018, though it remains to be seen whether the 34-year-old Cutler has intentions to play beyond this year after stepping into retirement this offseason.
For now, the Dolphins have a new leader and many interested observers in Chicago.
“Hopefully he steps in and he’s ready to go,” Miller said. “They get a leader, a natural leader on their football team and can win some games.”