(CBS) It only took Bears fans two games of the 2014 season to experience the full gamut of emotions that comes watching quarterback Jay Cutler lead your team.
In the season opener against Buffalo, Chicago was upset in part because Cutler threw a puzzling fourth-quarter interception that stemmed from him throwing across his body and aiming into a small window. In fitting fashion, it was picked by a defensive lineman, of all people.
A week later, with Chicago trailing 17-0 late in the second quarter in San Francisco, Cutler led the Bears on a furious rally and to a 28-20 win with arguably the best half of his NFL career. Against a rugged defense, Cutler threw four touchdowns without a turnover and threw just one incompletion in the second half.
After Monday’s win at New York, public opinion is pretty high on Cutler, but he’s still maddeningly inconsistent in the eyes of some in Chicago. To that latter group, you should be reminded of this.
It could be much worse, and you should be thankful that Cutler is a Chicago Bear and not a Washington Redskin. Because Jay Cutler was really close to being a Washington Redskin back in 2009.
In a well-reported piece that was published Thursday, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora revisited how close the Redskins were to trading for Cutler back in the spring of 2009, when Cutler was disgruntled in Denver because new coach Josh McDaniels had flirted with the idea of bringing then-Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel to the Broncos organization. Cutler wanted out, and Washington was on his short list, knowing that former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan could well land there soon, which he did in 2010. Washington owner Dan Snyder had a burning desire to trade for Cutler, too.
At one point in spring 2009 as the trade rumors swirled, the Redskins offered two first-round draft picks and Jason Campbell for Cutler, La Canfora reported.
The Bears operated with more discretion in chasing Cutler, La Canfora wrote, because they wanted to avoid the drama of having current players on the roster deal with trade rumors. New England had inquired to see if Chicago had interest in Cassel, but the Bears said no because they’d “rather have Kyle Orton,” La Canfora quotes one source as saying.
And in the end, it was Orton of all people who ended up changing the tide of the trade talks and who is a big reason that Cutler is in Chicago now.
From La Canfora:
Orton was indeed much more of a natural fit in McDaniels system than, say, Campbell, and in the end, it was the Broncos’ superior comfort in his ability to step in and run their offense that swayed things in Chicago’s favor. (Washington executive Vinny) Cerrato, in the meantime, was trying to push Campbell as the short-term answer to Denver’s passing needs.
Throughout the pursuit, the Redskins were unsure with which team they were competing, though few days before the deal ended up being completed, the Broncos told them there was another finalist and the deal could go either way.
And it went down to the very end.
Cerrato: “Josh called me and said, ‘I like Orton better than Campbell,’ and I said, ‘I can’t change Jason Campbell from Kyle Orton.’ So then (Broncos GM Brian) Xanders calls me and says, ‘We’re going to do this deal (with Chicago).”
Finally on April 2, 2009, Chicago sent Orton, a 2009 first-rounder, a 2010 first-rounder and a 2009 third-rounder to Denver in exchange for Cutler and a 2009 fifth-rounder.
The gist of the article is that the near-Cutler-to-Washington trade changed the course of three franchises. Read the full story here.