Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler's teams are heading in very different direction a year and a half after they were traded.

Kyle Orton - Jay Cutler Trade Revisited

In the wake of the failed Josh McDaniel experiment in Denver, I thought it would be fun to revisit the Kyle Orton – Jay Cutler trade. I expected to find that the Bears ended up making a decent deal and overall the teams ended up about even, it being only one and a half seasons later.

What I found is that the Denver Broncos ended up screwing themselves multiple times over and failing to take advantage of what could have been a very productive trade for them. Let’s call this post a little more salt in the wounds of “what could have been” for Josh McDaniels and Broncos fans. This one’s for you, Jay.

After Week 4, the “I told ya so-ers” were out, lauding Kyle Orton, who averaged 355 passing yards per game and only turned the ball over 3 times. He also just led the Broncos to a last minute victory against the Titans, giving the Broncos a respectable 2-2 record. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler was coming off one of the worst performances of his career, where he threw for 42 yards, 1 INT, was sacked 9 times and was injured and out of the game against the Giants by halftime. Bears fans were worried, what good is a pro bowl QB if the offensive line allows him to get killed every game?

We all know things have turned around since then. Here is how the two main components of that April 2009 trade have performed with their new teams over the last season and a half:

  Jay Cutler Kyle Orton
Record 15-12 11-16
Passing Yards 6,211 7,289
Comp % 61.5% 61.1%
TDs 44 41
INTs 36 18
QB Rating 82.6 89.6

When you take into account record, I think the two stack up pretty evenly when it comes to overall performance.  Cutler turned the ball over a lot more but he still won games.  We will call it a draw, maybe a little favor in the Bears direction since winning games is what matters.

Now, let’s take a look at the rest of the deal, starting with the Bears. In addition to Cutler, they received the Broncos 2009 5th round selection, which they used to draft none other than, WR Johnny Knox. I think all we need to say about him is that he’s the Bears current leading receiver and one of the fastest guys in the league. Not bad for the 140th pick in the draft. Overall, the Bears received quality with both pieces they traded for.

The Broncos story is a little more complicated. They received Kyle Orton along with the 18th and 84th draft picks in 2009 and the 11th pick in 2010. The Broncos made five different trades with the picks, receiving a few extras and trading a few others away.  To simplify it, here is a list of the guys that they ended up with as well as the guys that they could have had if they didn’t make so many trades.  This list includes any picks involving the draft picks the Bears gave them:


18th pick in 2009 – DE Robert Ayers (14 Tackles, 0 Sacks in 2009; 25 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, missed 5 games due to injury in 2010 and was benched in preseason)
64th pick in 2009 – TE Richard Quinn (1 game played in two seasons)
132nd pick in 2009 – T Seth Olsen (Cut by Broncos before 2010 season; currently on Vikings practice squad)
22nd pick in 2010 – WR Demaryius Thomas (22 Receptions, 283 Yards, 2 Receiving TDs, 2 Fumbles lost in 9 games in 2010)
25th pick in 2010 – QB Tim Tebow (1 Completion, 3 Yards Passing, 1 Passing TD, 28 Rushing Yards, 3 Rushing TDs in 6 games in 2010)
87th pick in 2010 – WR Eric Decker (3 Receptions, 76 Yards in 10 games in 2010)

Didn’t Get’em

79th pick in 2009 – G Kraig Urbik (Starting for Bills in 2010)
84th pick in 2009 – WR Mike Wallace (41 Receptions, 868 Yards, 8 Receiving TDs in 2010 for Steelers)
11th pick in 2010 – T Anthony Davis (Starting for 49ers in 2010)
13th pick in 2010 – DE Brandon Graham (13 Tackles, 3 Sacks in 2010; Starting for Eagles)
24th pick in 2010 – WR Dez Bryant (45 Receptions, 561 Yards, 6 Receiving TDs, 2 PR TDs in 2010 for Cowboys)
43rd pick in 2010 – LB Sergio Kindle (On IR in 2010 for Ravens)
113th pick in 2010 – TE Aaron Hernandez (39 Receptions, 513 Yards, 4 Receiving TDs in 2010 for Patriots)
114th pick in 2010 – TE Dennis Pitta (Backup for Ravens in 2010)

So there ya go, you make the call. The Broncos squandered away most of the draft picks the Bears gave them as well as the picks they received in trades for the Bears picks, missing out on the likes of Wallace, Bryant and Hernandez. Their saving grace could be Tebow if he replaces Orton, but only one of them can play at a time.  Confusing as it is, right now it looks like the Broncos didn’t get as good of a deal as they wanted.

We will have to wait a few years to really see who got the best of the deal, but the Bears have Super Bowl hopes this year and the Broncos are sitting at the bottom of the AFC West, without a coach and having gone 5-17 in Orton’s last 22 games. Cutler, on the other hand is 10-3 in his last 13 starts and may finally be showing that he belongs among the QB elite. We shall see. In the meantime, thanks again Denver, for our starting QB and starting WR, we will send you a postcard from Arlington in February.

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Tags: 2009 Draft 2010 Draft Aaron Hernandez Anthony Davis Chicago Bears Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos Dez Bryant Eric Decker Jay Cutler Kyle Orton Mike Wallace Richard Quinn Robert Ayers Seth Olsen Tim Tebow Trade

  • Boomer

    It’s scary to think that in some strange way, Jay Cutler was traded for Tim Tebow. In what alternate universe does that make any sense??? I guess that’s why Joshie is standing in the unemployment line.

    Here’s a brain tickler for you – Who did more damage to their franchise, Josh McDaniels to the Broncos or Matt Millen to the Lions. I say McDaniels did more damage in a shorter period of time. Millen’s de-construction of the Lions was a slow, drawn out process.

    • Mr. Pickles

      It’s also scary to think that Peyton Hillis was directly traded for Brady Quinn.

      I feel like McDaniels did more damage. There no questioning Millen’s ineptitude at running a franchise but at the end of the day he just took a bad team and made it worse. McDaniels gutted a franchise that probably had some potential. I mean he ran a franchise QB AND a pro-bowl receiver out of town and traded away a stud RB for nothing, all the while making some horrible draft moves.

  • Mr. Pickles

    I live in Denver now so I’ve had the pleasure of having a front row seat to this circus for the past year. Early in the season the general sentiment around town was “we don’t need Jay cutler, we have a bright, innovative, young coach who will turn this whole thing around”. The last few days that sentiment has changed to “about time that moron got fired, Jay Cutler is lighting it up in Chicago!” At the end of the day the guy I really feel for is Orton, I always liked him, maybe the Broncs will trade him away to a decent team next year.

  • 75Bearsfan

    I would argue that the Brandon Marshall trade had more to do with Tebow than the Cutler deal. It was like 1/3 or 1/6 of Tebow can be attributed to Cutler. The fact is that the deal would not have been done without the 2nd rounder from the BM trade.

  • Steve

    This weekend the Patroits are going to show you what McDaniels saw in Jay Cutler. McDaniels made mistakes, but he’s very well respected around the league for his offensive football mind and he certainly knows quarterbacks. In fact, if the Bears were smart they’d hire him as an offensive coordinator. And I’d love to see Cutler trying to learn McDaniels’ offensive (hint, hint) – that’s why McDaniels sent him packing. You have to be smart to be a QB in the NFL and Cutler doesn’t have it between the ears to live up to his athletic potential. He hasn’t exactly played against the best defenses in the league this year and when he does (starting this week) you’ll see what we always saw in Denver – bad decisions, lots of interceptions, and finally pouting and finger pointing. There’s cheering in Chicago now, but let’s see what kind of song you’re singing with a one and done playoff ride. In fact I’ll go out on a limb and say the Bears won’t win another game this season.

    • Mr. Pickles

      As of right now Miami is ranked 4th in total defense, Minnisota is 6th, GB 10th, and Philly is 12th. Just in case you’re not keeping score at home Cutler lead the Bears to victory in all four of those games with 8 td’s and only 4 int’s. New England? They’re 31st.

    • Doug

      What? Are you crazy? Cutler doesn’t have it between the ears? Martz offense is the most complicated offense in the NFL. Everybody and their mother knows it. And Cutler is having the best year of his career so far in it.

      Not to mention he went to Vanderbilt and graduated with a degree in Human and Organizational Development.

      Jay Cutler is a very smart guy.

  • Ajay

    The patriots game is on CBS…the bears never win on CBS…

  • Anthony

    Just curious here, Steve – are you really SERIOUSLY proclaiming the Patriots to be one of the “best defenses in the league…”?

    A) They’re allowing 276 passing yards/game
    B) They’re offense is proficient enough to cover in most shootouts but…
    C) In their 2 losses, NE has given up an avg of 183 yards rushing – allowing 100yds/game in 10 wins.

    These stats account for their DEAD-LAST position in total defense… which can somewhat be attributed to their youth on that side of the ball, but regardless:

    Given the way Martz has been game-planning for opponents since the bye, I believe we’ll see a balanced offensive scheme featuring Forte/Taylor/Hester catching a lot out of the backfield to complement Cutler’s short game with Olsen/Bennett/Knox.
    Field-position / Weather / +TO differential will help in granting Da Bears a win on Sunday.

    Steve, I think that what you’ve said on this forum is blasphemous – even disregarding the “McDaniels for Off.Coord. argument,” and am going to have to recommend to the moderators here that you be banned for idiocy.

    • DeCon

      Steve sounds like a whiny Broncos fan who lost its QB, top WR, stud RB and “Messiah” head coach, McDoofus…should Steve ever preach about McDoofus coming to the Bears, or into the state of Illinois for that matter, we at BGO will do our best to remove the comment before too many people read it since you will all be dumber for having to read that nonsense.

  • Steve

    You’ll see every prediction come true:

    1. Bears 0-4 for the remainder of the season.
    2. Losses will be due to Cutler mistakes – mostly interceptions in clutch situations.
    3. Bears will NOT make the playoffs.
    4. And your QB will be pout, point fingers at everyone but himself, and then isolate himself from the rest of the team. He does the same thing every single year. He did it to you last year! And he may even get his coach fired.

    You guys still have the rose colored glasses on. So called “McDoofus” (watch how quickly that guy is hired as an assistant … he knows football, he just doesn’t know how to be a head coach) sold you a lemon – you’ll see. You sound like Bronco fans a few years ago. We defended Cutler every year; blamed his mistakes on everyone else. I’m the idiot … until recently even Bear fans were calling Cutler the reincarnation of Jeff George ( … which is a right-on assessment. Cutler has made it to one Pro-Bowl and that was the year Brady was hurt and somehow Roethlisberger (who went on to win the Super Bowl) was left off the team. Cutler didn’t have any business being on that Pro-Bowl team. He hasn’t proven anything yet … let’s see how the next four weeks play out. Let’s see how he responds when the Patriots do to him what they just did to Sanchez.

    And for the record, I never referred to McDaniels as Denver’s Messiah. I thought we picked the wrong guy from the beginning (most of us did). I wanted Leslie Frasier last time and I hope we have the sense to hire him this time around.

    More to the point of this article … WE got the better end of the Cutler-Orton trade, but McDaniels pissed away what we received in return.

    Cutler sucks, he doesn’t have the mental toughness to win consistently, and I predict the Bears won’t win another game this year – and it will be because of Cutler that they lose. You’ll see.

    • Doug

      See, you’re wrong again. Jay Cutler has taken the blame for everything that’s ever happened in Chicago. He’s pouted, sure, but every QB pouts from time to time. But he’s never blamed anyone but himself in a press conference. Ever. He even told the media when they asked him about a route that it appeared Knox ran wrong that it was in fact his mistake, not Knox’s. Twice.

    • DeCon

      The Bears will go 0-4??? Seriously, you must be on something. It must be because you aren’t used to a team that has a good defense and how much that can propel a team to victory. Jay never had a good defense in Denver and he had to carry the team, which caused Denver’s late season collapses when he was there look like his fault. I truly believe Jay and the offense as a whole has turned the page and Jay knows he doesn’t have to win games on his own. I am not much into making predictions, but I can guarantee the Bears will not go 0-4 in these last 4 games.

      Now Steve, kindly get back on your horse and ride it back to the Rocky Mountains…Tebow is your Messiah now…choke on that slap nuts!

  • jhawk

    I want to say that all of this is legit and that the Bears got the better end of the deal. But we need a much much closer look at this. I would say, due to turnovers, that Orton has been much more productive than Cutler. Turnovers usually equate to losses. This is where it gets very weird. Orton has fewer turnovers, but more losses. Wehre as Cutler has more turnovers, but fewer losses. What in the world right? It comes down to one simple thing, Offense wins games, Defense wins championships. Cutler has done nothing to help that Chicago Defense, but the defense still walks out and wins games. Orton has done what he can to help the defense, but the defense has done nothing to help themselves. Orton >> Cutler, but Denver Defense <<<<<<< Chicago Defense.

    • Boomer

      The Cutler/Martz combo in this latest little winning streak has definitely helped the Bears defense. In the Eagles game, they had a drive that chewed up nearly the entire 3rd quarter. The drive only resulted in a FG, but it allowed the defense to rest up and kept Mike Vick off the field.

      The defense has been able to play with a lead and been able to take some risks because they don’t have to carry the entire load themselves.

      Don’t get me wrong, I liked Orton and wish the Bears could have kept him as Cutty’s backup but Jay is better, period.

  • Scrappy Bill

    Just want to say this to the fine people of Chicago, we don’t claim Steve as one of us. McDaniels has set back the Broncos by years.

    This guy is widely credited with this charge, plus the taping incident.

    Re Cutler, no discussion has been talked about more in Denver than what happened. Most people here think BOTH were culpable. McDaniels acted like an idiot by treating his star player the way he did. Cutler did himself no favors by the way he responded. I wouldn’t want a player on my team that couldnt admit they made a mistake like that.

    Re Cutler’s pouting. I would describe it as an unfortunate physical/behavior-ism that is no more his fault than if he had a mole on his back. And has the equal importance to football too. So what? He might not be as pretty as Leinart but damn sure is a better player.

    Good luck Chicago.

  • Steve


    • DaPeppers

      Pats game was a disaster, but 2-2 at worst is way off from your 0-4 prediction. Even better, that Jets game is a one Orton never would have won for us. Our D was average or worse and we won… that never happens.

  • Steve

    I must admit, I was wrong. The Bears are better than I thought they were (I sound like Dennis Green). And the Jets game – WOW! Afterwords I thought the Bears were on their way to the Super Bowl. But then I watched the Bears against the Packers and thought they looked like a one and done team.

    Here’s the deal, you’re right, Orton couldn’t have won the Jets game. Orton can’t win games, but he also rarely loses them either. Cutler does have the talent to win games, which is why the Bears made the trade, but he loses games by making decisions that Orton doesn’t make (see final INT vs. Packers). He has a ton of potential (see Jets game), but until this year that potential hasn’t translated into much (26-27 as a starter before this year).

    Some more predictions:

    1. If Cutler plays like he did in the Jets game and the Bear defense plays like it did in Sunday’s game vs. the Packers, the Bears will win the Super Bowl, which will effectively end the debate about who got the better end of this trade.

    2. Orton will be beating the Bears in a Viking jersey next year. I wish the Broncos would keep Orton, but they’re sold on Tebow (I’m not). The bottom line is Tebow is making too much money (ticket sales and jersey sales) to keep him on the sidelines.

    3. The Broncos will make the playoffs in 2011. We were devastated by injuries this year, a fact many overlook. We’re not as bad as our record this year indicates.

    4. McDaniels will be hired by someone soon. Just read that the Raiders are interested in him. Most fans think McDaniels is a joke, but several players say he’s a good coach and he has a good offensive mind. But he’ll get hired again if he can’t get along with star players and shouldn’t ever be allowed near a draft board again.

    I’m going bury my grudge against Cutler now, admit I was wrong, and say good luck in the playoffs Bears!!