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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 CutlerKyle Orton
Passing Yards6,2117,289
Comp %61.5%61.1%
QB Rating82.689.6

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.