Life really does come at you fast.
Just four days after Ryan Tannehill went down with yet another knee injury, his high-priced replacement, Jay Cutler, stood before reporters in a clean new Dolphins polo.
“A situation like this doesn’t come along very often,” Cutler explained, with the ease of man fresh off an eight-month vacation.
“I know Adam [Gase] very well,” Cutler continued. “I’ve known him since ’06, the first year I came out. I know the system. You’re talking about a playoff team with a lot of really, really good football players, a lot of potential. There weren’t a lot of opportunities or jobs out there, if they would have came up I would have taken, but this has got to be at the top of the list.”
So Tannehill’s disaster was the perfect storm of opportunity for Cutler, who announced his retirement from football not long after the Bears cut him in March.
It was about that time Cutler’s throwing shoulder was cleared by doctors. He had labrum surgery around the New Year, but insisted Monday that his health is “fine.”
He’s not worried about his arm strength or health, but rather getting up to speed with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and the rest of the Dolphins’ receivers.
As for his conditioning? That needs work. He was enjoying the slower pace of retirement, and beyond working out at Vanderbilt, his alma mater, Cutler hasn’t done many football activities beyond playing with his kids.
“The last four months, I've been in a different mode, a different mindset,” Cutler said. “I was really pretty good with where I was in my life. I was around the kids a lot and felt pretty content. Weighed back and forth on this.”
But when Gase called him over the weekend to asked if he’d like to make a comeback, Cutler agreed — with some prodding from his wife, actress and reality TV star Kristin Cavallari.
“Kristin probably talked me into it more than anybody else,” Cutler said. “... I think she got tired of me around the house. She saw it from a different lens. She saw what kind of opportunity it was, and she was all for it.”
And what kind of opportunity is it?
Cutler is joining what he calls a “very, very” talented roster that went 10-6 and made the playoffs a year ago.
And he again gets to play with the offensive mind who unlocked the key to Cutler’s ability in 2015. Cutler had the most efficient season of his 11-year career with Gase in Chicago.
“He's really good at his job,” Cutler said of Gase. “I think he does a really good job of putting quarterbacks in good positions. I think he does a really good job of being consistent. ... He's going to support you through thick and thin.”
Gase is apparently a darn good salesman, too. Cutler acknowledged that returning to the NFL was a “hard” decision, but Gase recruited him like a college coach would a high schooler.
“But he gave me space too,” Cutler said. “I talked to some other people. He let me decide what I wanted to decide.”
The $10 million contract surely helped, too. Gase said Monday that Cutler didn’t come out of retirement to stand on the sidelines, so while Cutler said he got “no guarantees” from Gase, Cutler will almost certainly be the starter when the Dolphins’ season opens in five weeks.
Beyond that? Cutler has barely given it much thought.
“I’ve got a lot of things I’ve got to process and get used to,” he said. “I was in one place for eight years so this is going to be a little bit different, it’s going to be a transition periods. I just want to get to this next meeting, figure out where the dinner room is and then we’ll start learning the offense, learning some guys’ names.”