The Miami Dolphins are suddenly shopping for a quarterback following an injury to starter Ryan Tannehill. The sixth-year veteran was looking to return from an injury to the same knee last year, only to go down untouched in practice this week. It has sent the Dolphins scrambling to find a potential replacement for him on the roster, while also trying to figure out exactly what the prognosis on Tannehill’s knee will be.
The top name on the list thus far has been former Chicago Bears Jay Cutler. He has a connection to Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, who was the Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2015, when Cutler put up his best career passer rating (92.3) and a 21-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio while throwing for 3,659 yards.
Is Cutler the right choice for the Dolphins?
At this point, he might be. The Dolphins are about a month away from starting the regular season, and Cutler’s familiarity with Gase’s offensive system would make any learning curve he would have much less than bringing in someone like Colin Kaepernick. That could get him up and running with the offense in time to potentially start in Week 1, despite missing all of the offseason training program and the first part of training camp. Cutler expected to be in the booth this year, working as a Fox broadcaster, but the Dolphins may need him, and he appears to want to return to being coached by Gase.
Cutler’s reported contract demands seem to say he wants to be paid like a starting quarterback and if the Dolphins are paying him anything like the $13 million that has been rumored, he has to come in and immediately jump ahead of Matt Moore on the roster. As the starter, Cutler would be looking to continue to grow from this 2015 season, and if the Dolphins are able to get that 2015 version of Cutler, he will be the right quarterback to replace Tannehill.
The problem is, there are too many ifs for that kind of money. Maybe the rumored $13 million is inaccurate (personally, my guess is that it is, but we will have to wait to see). Cutler has to come in and learn the intricacies of the Dolphins’ version of Gase’s offense. Sure there will be similarities and terminology will be the same, but Gase had to change his own style last year as Jay Ajayi emerged, so there will be some changes Cutler will have to learn.
At this point, I would rather see the Dolphins stick with Moore. I feel like Cutler and Moore are similar quarterbacks, and Moore has a relationship with the receivers on the team. If Cutler is coming in to the team to provide depth and compete with Moore for the starter’s job, then that would be understandable. Just giving him the starter’s role seems premature, however.
That said, Miami has to add a quarterback if Tannehill is going to be out an extended period of time. The Dolphins’ 2016 seventh-round pick, Brandon Doughty, is probably not ready for a large role in the case something happens to Moore. Adding Cutler as that depth - or possibly Colin Kaepernick - makes sense. Just throwing a ton of money at Cutler and making him the starter immediately does not.