Jay Christopher Cutler (born April 29, 1983) is an American football quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Vanderbilt and was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, for whom he played for three seasons. In 2009, he was traded to the Chicago Bears, where he played for eight seasons.
Following the 2016 season, Cutler announced his retirement and his intention to become a sportscaster for NFL on Fox’s television broadcasts. However, following a season-ending injury to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in August 2017, Cutler came out of retirement and signed with the team.
Jay Cutler was born in Santa Claus, Indiana, in 1983. Cutler attended Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, Indiana. He started three years at quarterback for the Patriots football team, amassing a combined 26–1 record in his junior and senior years, including a perfect 15–0 during his senior year. Cutler and his team outscored opponents 746–85, including a 90–0 shutout at Pike Central. During his senior year, Cutler connected on 122 of 202 passes (60.4%) for 2,252 yards with 31 touchdowns, while rushing 65 times for 493 yards with 11 touchdowns. He also started at safety for three years, intercepting nine passes as a senior, 12th overall in the state. His team’s perfect record during his senior year included the school’s first 3A state championship, where Heritage Hills beat Zionsville in overtime, 27–24. The most notable play of the game occurred when Cutler lateraled the ball to the halfback, Cole Seifrig, who then passed it to Cutler who ran it into the end zone. Cutler also played strong safety in the state championship and made 19 tackles.
Cutler was named a first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press as a senior. In addition to playing football in high school, he was a first-team all-state selection in basketball and garnered honorable mention all-state accolades as a shortstop in baseball.
Cutler grew up as a Chicago Bears fan during his youth in Indiana.
Cutler attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He started all 45 career games that he played for the Vanderbilt Commodores football team, the most starts by a quarterback in school history. He did not miss a game in college due to injury. The Commodores were 11–35 during his tenure, including going 5–27 versus the SEC. In 2002, Cutler set the school record for touchdowns and rushing yards by a freshman and rushed for more yards than any other Southeastern Conference quarterback that year. The Associated Press honored him with a first-team freshman All-SEC selection. In 2004, as a junior, Cutler completed 61.0 percent of his passes, setting a school record, while throwing for 1,844 yards with 10 touchdowns and a career-low five interceptions.
The 2005 season, Cutler’s final year of play at Vanderbilt, was his most successful. As an 11-game starter, he completed 273 of 462 passes (59.1%) for 3,073 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions, as he became the first Commodore to win the SEC Offensive Player of the Year (coaches and media) since 1967. With his senior-season performance, Cutler became the second Commodore to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, while his 273 completions and 21 touchdowns ranked second on the school’s single-season list. He led the Commodores to victories over Wake Forest, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Richmond and Tennessee. The Commodores also scored the second most points ever (42) laid upon the Florida Gators at their current home field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Vanderbilt nearly upset the 13th-ranked Gators before falling 49–42 in the second overtime after a controversial excessive celebration call prevented the Commodores from going for 2 at the end of regulation. Reflecting on Cutler’s college career, former Denver Broncos safety John Lynch said, “If this guy can take a bunch of future doctors and lawyers and have them competing against the Florida Gators, this guy is a stud.”
Cutler ended his career by leading Vanderbilt past Tennessee 28–24, their first over the Volunteers since 1982 (the year before Cutler was born), and the first in Knoxville since 1975. Cutler passed for three touchdowns and 315 yards, becoming the first quarterback in school history to record four consecutive 300-yard passing performances. Cutler’s final play in college was the game-winning (and streak-ending) touchdown pass to teammate Earl Bennett against Tennessee. A finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (nation’s top senior quarterback), Cutler was a first-team All-SEC pick by the league’s coaches and led the conference with a school-record 3,288 yards of total offense.
While at Vanderbilt, Cutler was a three-year captain and four-year starter, setting school career records for total offense (9,953 yards), touchdown passes (59), passing yards (8,697), pass completions (710), pass attempts (1,242) and combined touchdowns (76).
Cutler graduated from Vanderbilt in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in human and organizational development.
Cutler was ranked by many experts as the third-best quarterback prospect in the 2006 NFL Draft, after Matt Leinart of USC and Vince Young of Texas. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Ron Jaworski tabbed him as the best quarterback available in the draft, and some scouts believed he had better arm strength than Young and Leinart, and compared him to Brett Favre for his gunslinger attitude. At the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine, Cutler completed 23 repetitions of a 225-pound bench press (more than some linemen) and ran a 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds.
Cutler was selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round with the 11th pick in the draft, acquired from the St. Louis Rams for their 1st and 3rd round picks. Many believed Cutler was chosen by the Broncos due to the lackluster performance in the previous season’s AFC Championship Game of Jake Plummer. After the pick by Denver, Cutler said, “We had no warning. I think I knew about 15 seconds before everyone else did.” Cutler, as predicted by most, was the third quarterback chosen, after Young (3rd overall) and Leinart (10th). He is the third first-round pick to come from Vanderbilt, preceded by Will Wolford and Bill Wade. On July 27, 2006, Cutler agreed to terms on a six-year $48 million contract, which included $11 million in bonuses.
On August 3, 2017, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a potentially season-ending injury, and the team reached out to the retired Cutler. On August 7, Cutler signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Dolphins, reuniting him with former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who had been hired as Miami’s head coach in 2016.
In Week 2, the Dolphins won their first game against the Los Angeles Chargers, 19–17. Cutler was 24-of-33 for 230 yards with a touchdown to wide receiver Kenny Stills in the road victory. In a Week 7 game against the New York Jets, Cutler suffered multiple cracked ribs. He was replaced by Matt Moore during the game and was ruled out for the following week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. He returned in Week 9 to face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. In the 27–24 loss, he was very efficient going 34-of-42 for 311 yards and a touchdown. In the Week 11 game, Cutler suffered a concussion, which caused him to miss the team’s next game. On December 27, he said he would probably only continue his NFL career if he can be a starter, stating “I wouldn’t want to move again or go somewhere just to back up.” Cutler started 14 games for the Dolphins in 2017.