The Miami Dolphins and former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler have agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal plus incentives, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Miami Dolphins haven’t made a formal determination of how long Ryan Tannehill will be out after suffering an injury to his left knee on Thursday.
But by pursing – and now signing – Jay Cutler, the Dolphins appear to be preparing for an extended time without Tannehill, whether the quarterback opts for a lengthy rest period or season-ending surgery.
If the Dolphins believed Tannehill’s left knee would heal itself in just a few weeks, the team could have leaned on backup Matt Moore, much like they did late last season with Tannehill first suffered a partially torn ACL in mid-December.
This is a sign the Dolphins need a new starter.
Cutler, who was released by the Chicago Bears earlier this year, wasn’t going to end his brief retirement and abandon providing color analysis for Fox to be a short-term replacement.
Instead, Cutler and the Dolphins made the move that made sense for both sides, given the long friendship between Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and Cutler.
Cutler was the only free agent quarterback available who had played in Gase’s offense, in 2015 when the duo was together in Chicago. Cutler experienced a career renaissance that season, finishing the year with 3,659 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a career-best quarterback rating of 92.3.
Though he has not played with any of Miami’s skill position players, like receivers Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, Cutler’s familiarity with Gase’s playbook and coaching style should be immediately beneficial for a team with playoff aspirations.
Still, big questions remain. Cutler played in just five games for the Bears last season and underwent shoulder surgery in December. At 34, he has not started a full season’s worth of games since 2009, though he only missed one start each in 2014 and 2015.
It’s also unclear how much Cutler has been working out since his release from the Bears and his decision to pursue a broadcasting career.
But by signing Cutler now, the Dolphins have their Plan B in place, for no matter how long Tannehill is out, especially if it is the entire season.
Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones