It was a nice round number back in August when Jay Cutler signed for $10 million to provide the Miami Dolphins with one season of competent quarterbacking.
Easy to remember. Fairly easy to swallow, since it was Stephen Ross’ money and not ours, and since Ryan Tannehill shockingly was out of the season.
Also, $10 million in “special money” is what Jeffrey Loria spent for the one-year rental of Hall of Fame catcher Pudge Rodriguez, a key figure in the old Florida Marlins’ 2003 World Series championship run. That worked out pretty well.
Now that Miami’s 6-10 season has ended, however, there are many ways to show what a waste Cutler’s signing was in a league where journeyman quarterbacks play, and sometimes win, for so much less.
The Minnesota Vikings, for instance, earned a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs at 13-3. Their quarterback Case Keenum, signed in March to provide depth behind Sam Bradford, is working on a 2017 salary of $2 million.
Other quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs either because of injuries or because their team had no one else include Philadelphia’s Nick Foles ($1.6 million) the Rams’ Jared Goff ($6.4 million), Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles ($6.57 million), Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota ($6.6 million) and Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor ($9.7 million).
These numbers come from a Sports Illustrated report in August and are based on 2017 cap hits alone, not overall contract values.
So Cutler got a pretty good deal to come out of retirement at 34. And what did he give Miami in return? Pretty much what he’s given every other team that has started him.
In 14 starts Cutler had a quarterback rate of 80.8. That’s slightly below his career average of 85.3 but certainly in the ballpark. Jacoby Brissett, the tough Dwyer High School product who has started 17 games as an emergency quarterback in New England and Indianapolis, is a fair match for Cutler’s numbers in this category.
Cutler threw 14 interceptions for the Dolphins. His average was 16-plus over the seven previous seasons where he avoided missing major time due to injury.
By throwing 19 touchdowns in 2017 Cutler came in just under his average of 23 over those same seven seasons where he was mostly healthy.
Cutler averaged 190 passing yards per game in Miami. That’s 29th in the league and two spots ahead of Bears rookie Mitch Trubisky.
Overall, the Dolphins would have been better off with Tyrod Taylor, who always seems to beat the Dolphins and throws fewer picks. Buffalo’s got Taylor, however, and Buffalo is in the playoffs.
There are other ways to quantify how badly the Dolphins overpaid to get a quarterback that coach Adam Gase believed capable of saving the season, but here is the simplest way to state who Cutler is and who he’s always been.
With Miami Cutler was 6-8 as a starter. Over his career he is 74-79 in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs.
Nothing worth writing home about, or writing a big check, either.