Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler says he has accepted a role as a color commentator for Fox Sports, but he is not saying he’s completely done on the field.
“I don’t know if retirement is the right word; I don’t feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL,” Cutler told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. “You are either forced to leave, or you lose the desire to do what’s required to keep going. I’m in between those situations at this point in my life.”
It is unknown if Cutler has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for a quarterback job, though Fox does have a history of putting such clauses in contracts. Brady Quinn, for instance, briefly left his role at Fox to attend Dolphins training camp — something his contract allowed him to do — before later returning to the network with the same clause in his new deal.
Cutler, 34, will start in a three-man booth to allow him to get adjusted in the same way that Troy Aikman did when he entered broadcasting in 2002. A three-man booth, in theory, would also allow a more realistic chance for a return to the field since it wouldn’t put Fox into such a bind if Cutler left.
Two NFL general managers of QB-needy teams say they did not anticipate Cutler getting a role that would allow him to compete for a starting job, noting his best chance would be to wait for a potential injury during training camp or the season.
“Words can’t express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me along my journey,” Cutler said. “I started playing tackle football at the age of 10 and was so lucky to have supportive parents and great coaches along the way that made my path possible. If I listed each person individually, this would quickly turn into an essay, but you know who you are and I wouldn’t be in this situation without you. So thank you.
“To my parents, my sisters, my wife and kids — thank you for putting your wants and needs on the back burner while I played a game every Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You made it all possible.
“I recently read a quote that struck a cord with me at the time. It was attributed to Henry Rollins (but with the Internet these days, you can never be too sure). ‘I did that, I gave everything I had to give to that. Now, if I returned to that it would be repetition — it might be fun repetition, but it wouldn’t be meaningful repetition.’ Thank you to everyone along the way. You made my dream come true.”
Fox has been searching for a new analyst to work alongside Kevin Burkhardt after John Lynch left to become the San Francisco 49ers‘ general manager earlier this offseason.
Cutler’s knowledge of the NFC, after an eight-year stint in Chicago, would be an asset to the network because Fox broadcasts the NFC package of games.
Cutler, whom the Bears released on March 9 after an 11-year NFL run, had conversations with the New York Jets and Houston Texans before the draft, but the talks ultimately went nowhere, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson.
Cutler will be the second high-profile quarterback to leave the playing field for the broadcast booth after former Cowboys star Tony Romo joined CBS last month.
Cutler holds almost every passing record in Bears franchise history, though he likely will be remembered for leading Chicago to only one playoff appearance in eight seasons. The veteran quarterback played in just five games last season because of thumb and shoulder injuries. He also suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and underwent surgery in December.
Cutler led the Bears to the NFC Championship Game in 2010 — a contest he left because of a knee injury — and posted a career-best 92.3 passer rating in 2015, but those achievements were overshadowed by his struggles protecting the football. Cutler cycled through six offensive coordinators in Chicago. The Bears’ revolving door of playcallers also contributed to Cutler’s erratic play.
Ex-Bears QB Cutler has agreed to do TV for Fox – ESPN