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Is This How The "Franchise" is  treated?

QB is unsure he'll attend workouts Monday after a call team officials contend was positive. By Mike Klis
The Denver Post
Posted: 03/10/2009 07:33:43 PM MDT Updated: 03/11/2009 12:54:43 PM MDT
Jay Cutler is not on the same bench - or page - as new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. The coach says a conference call went well. The quarterback disagrees. (Denver Post file photo) Related Articles

 

So much for communication.

According to an NFL source, Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler came away from a conference call with team officials Monday believing that for the right deal, he would be traded between now and the NFL draft, which begins April 25.

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels would not comment, but a source close to the team said Broncos officials had a different interpretation of how the conference call went.

McDaniels was joined on one end of the conference call by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, general manager Brian Xanders and chief operating officer Joe Ellis. Cutler was in Nashville, Tenn., during the call and was accompanied by his agent, Bus Cook.

The Broncos, according to the source close to the team, say the

Denver Broncos

call was conducted in a nonconfrontational manner, with team officials willing to answer every question, and that the call ended positively. The possibility of a future trade never came up.

However, Cutler came away disappointed.

Who says all good relationships start with communication?

Cutler, who has been the Broncos' starting quarterback dating to the final five games of the 2006 season, has been irked since learning McDaniels supposedly considered trading him to Tampa Bay in a deal that would have brought New England quarterback Matt Cassel to Denver. McDaniels coached Cassel at New England last season.

However, nothing presented by New England coach Bill Belichick came close to enticing McDaniels to accept a deal for Cassel, who instead was traded to Kansas City on Feb. 28.

McDaniels said he merely received calls on Cutler from other teams and announced through a team spokesman last week that "the Denver Broncos are not trading Jay Cutler. Period."

Still, leak of the proposed trade stung Cutler, who believed he was misled by McDaniels. According to both NFL sources, Cutler and Broncos officials entered the conference call believing any friction between the two parties would be resolved and the two

Post Poll - Weigh Jay's Worth If the Broncos trade Jay Cutler, what should they get in return?  A monster linebacker to anchor the revamped defense.  The biggest, meanest defensive lineman for a serious pass rush.  Another young quarterback to build the team around.  Cash ... enough to rehire Mike Shanahan as GM. sides would put the controversy behind them. Apparently, only the team officials came away satisfied.

Cutler said the meeting didn't go as hoped, according to the NFL source, adding that McDaniels reiterated no one is untradable for the sake of improving the team and that the quarterback was expected to report for the team's offseason conditioning program that begins Monday. Offseason conditioning workouts are - by de-finition - "voluntary," but players understand coaches expect them to attend.

According to the source close to the Broncos, McDan-iels said only that the team looked forward to seeing Cutler on Monday.

Thus, the next stage in this McJaygate drama.

According to the NFL source, Cutler has not yet decided whether he would report Monday. If Cutler doesn't report to Broncos headquarters next week, he would be viewed as undermining McDaniels' authority. What would the team do then? The Broncos may have no other choice but to move the player who in recent years has been dubbed not just the quarterback, but the "franchise" quarterback.

Ill feelings between Cutler and the Broncos began when Bowlen fired longtime coach Mike Shanahan two days after the Broncos were trounced by San Diego in a playoff-or-bust game in the 2008 regular-season finale. Cutler blasted the decision, then stated his support for passing-game coordinator Jeremy Bates.

When McDaniels became the new head coach, Bates was not retained. But in time, Cutler had warmed to McDaniels. They had spent a couple of weeks together at the team's headquarters studying the New England offensive system right up until the time the free-agent, trading season opened Feb. 27.

The next day brought reports Cutler was involved in trade talks, and there has been a rift between the quarterback and his bosses ever since. The most immediate question confronting Broncoland is: Can Cutler and the team reconcile their differences by the time the team begins its offseason conditioning program Monday?

Mike Klis: 303-954-1055 or mklis@denverpost.com

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