Even as they continue to weigh what to do with starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his injured left knee, the Miami Dolphins are already reaching out to multiple veteran quarterback options, with former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler being prominent among those.
Coach Adam Gase has been in contact with Cutler personally the past two days as the two men have worked on rekindling a relationship that helped Cutler throw 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2015 when he was the starting QB for Chicago and Gase was the offensive coordinator.
That year helped both men because it rehabilitated Cutler’s diminishing career and reputation, and it also sealed Gase’s reputation as something of a quarterback guru after he had success with Peyton Manning as well as Cutler.
Cutler last year was injury riddled much of the season -- he had hand and a labrum injury -- and threw four touchdowns and five interceptions in five games. Gase had already moved on to be the Dolphins coach.
Cutler was released by Chicago March 9 and then found no suitable opportunity to sign with another team. He instead agreed to join FOX Sports as an analyst.
Although Cutler, 34, seems to be a leading candidate to join the Dolphins, there are obstacles to overcome.
First, the Dolphins want to have a definitive plan for Tannehill. He is expected to miss “significant” time according to a source, but there is an outside chance he can play again in 2017 if he avoids surgery. That decision is not yet made. Gase said the team is looking at everything.
“Everything is on the table right now,” Gase said. “We are going to talk to a lot of people.”
That means the Dolphins are going to also talk to people about possibly filling Tannehill’s spot. Cutler is not the only quarterback they are talking to.
But with Cutler they have to come to an understanding about the former player’s expectations.
Will Cutler put his broadcast career on hold? One industry source said he would.
Will Cutler expect to be the Dolphins starter? Or compete for the starting job with Matt Moore? Or would he be content as a backup? Either of the first two would be his likely choice.
Would the Dolphins be willing to, at minimum, open the quarterback job to competition between Cutler and Moore?
It is clear the Dolphins don’t necessarily have a concern about how Moore is going to handle this situation if he doesn’t earn the starting job. Even though he helped get the team in the playoffs in 2016, notching two December victories in three games, the team isn’t anointing him the starter in Tannehill’s expected absence.
“Right now, Matt is our quarterback and we’ll see where we go from there, “ Gase said, “because I’ve got to figure out what’s going on with Ryan and then we’ll make decisions after that.”
The operative phrase there is “right now” Moore is the starter. The sense of that possibly being temporary is palpable.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero