Hub Arkush: Trading for star QB doesn't guarantee success ... as Bears already know

  • While quarterback Jay Cutler did lead the Bears to an NFC title game in 2010, it was their only playoff appearance with him and character issues dogged him and the Bears throughout his eight seasons in Chicago. The franchise is still trying to recover.

      While quarterback Jay Cutler did lead the Bears to an NFC title game in 2010, it was their only playoff appearance with him and character issues dogged him and the Bears throughout his eight seasons in Chicago. The franchise is still trying to recover. John Starks | Staff Photographer, November 2010

  • While Texans QB DeShaun Watson does not appear to be the problem child Jay Cutler was, he's the most sacked quarterback in the game since entering the NFL and has a history of injuries.

    While Texans QB DeShaun Watson does not appear to be the problem child Jay Cutler was, he's the most sacked quarterback in the game since entering the NFL and has a history of injuries. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/27/2021 6:02 AM

There have been huge quarterback trades before.

First ballot Hall of Famers like Joe Montana, John Elway and Brett Favre were dealt. Jim Plunkett, Carson Palmer, Jeff George and Rick Mirer also come to mind.

 

All of these deals have one of three things in common.

Either the player's value was as yet an unknown, they failed to live up to their prospects early in their careers and teams were anxious to cut their losses, or the player in spite of an outstanding career was nearing the end and their clubs were anxious to get something in return.

This is pertinent today because there is trade speculation surrounding three of the best QBs in the game: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson.

But while both Rodgers and Stafford could check one of the three boxes involved in every other big time QB deal, there is only one quarterback trade in history that would mirror the circumstances surrounding a Watson trade.

That deal was made by the Bears in 2009 when they acquired Jay Cutler, and a large segment of their fan base is now apoplectic in the belief the club must pay whatever it takes to get Watson.

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It is more than just symbolic the Cutler trade came the day after April Fools' Day.

NFL teams don't trade 25-year old Pro Bowl quarterbacks, but there is far more forcing comparisons of Cutler and Watson.

Cutler asked out of Denver because he was unhappy new coach Josh McDaniels had attempted to trade for Matt Cassel without talking to him about it, and Watson is reportedly unhappy because the Texans hired new General Manager Nick Caserio without consulting him.

Just prior to dealing Cutler, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen released a statement saying both he and McDaniels had been unable to get Cutler to call them back during the past 10 days.

Texans owner Cal McNair claims he tried unsuccessfully to reach Watson for days before Watson finally texted him.

It does matter that Cutler was viewed as a bit of a punk before his trade flap, while Watson is mostly admired.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But what if the Bears trade for Watson and then don't do enough to save Pace's and/or Nagy's jobs?

Would Watson again demand to be part of the search for their replacements, and what if unhappy with the final choice he demanded to move again in spite of the king's ransom the Bears would have certainly given up to acquire him?

Everyone knows how Cutler worked out in Chicago.

In addition to Kyle Orton, with the two first-round picks and third-round pick the Broncos got from the Bears they acquired edge rusher Robert Ayers, cornerback Alphonso Smith and tight end Richard Quinn.

Ayers was a decent player in Denver who never lived up to his first-round status, and after just 12 sacks in five seasons moved on to the Giants. Smith was such a disappointment as a rookie Denver dealt him to Detroit after one season. Quinn was a flat-out bust.

The Broncos were 20-28 the next three seasons before being forced to win a free-agent bidding war for Peyton Manning.

While Cutler did lead the Bears to an NFC title game in 2010, it was their only playoff appearance with him and character issues dogged him and the Bears throughout his eight seasons in Chicago. The franchise is still trying to recover.

Also while Watson does not appear to be the problem child Cutler was, there is at least one other "minor detail" the Bears might want to consider before dealing for Watson.

At 25, he has already torn the ACL in both his knees and he is the most sacked quarterback in the game since entering the NFL.

Watson appears to be a safer character risk than Cutler, but while he has a different skill set, he is not a bigger talent than Cutler was at the same stage.

History and everything we know about the NFL argues the Texans would be near insane to deal Watson. The Bears might want to at least consider learning from history and analyzing the cost of pushing their next three or four drafts into the pot in pursuit of him.

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