Apparently convinced that their rift with Jay Cutler is irreconcilable, the Broncos have decided to pursue a trade for their disgruntled quarterback before the April 25 draft.
In a stunning turn of events, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen released a statement at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday saying both he and coach Josh McDaniels had been unable to get Cutler to call them back over the last 10 days.
Bowlen said he spoke with Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, on Tuesday and came away convinced "that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."
Therefore, Bowlen said, "We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded."
This development is in stark contrast to what the Broncos' stance was at the NFL meetings last week. McDaniels, who created a firestorm of discontent with Cutler when he attempted to secretly trade him in February and the trade failed, seemed certain last week week he would be able to mend fences with Cutler in a private meeting.
A source Tuesday night said McDaniels felt he was at the point of no return with Cutler and had no choice but to pursue a trade.
Among the teams certain to be interested are Tampa Bay, the New York Jets and Detroit, which holds the No. 1 pick in this year's draft. But the Lions may have been swayed to pick Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall after his impressive workout Tuesday on the Georgia campus.
Other teams are likely to be interested, including Cleveland, Minnesota, San Francisco and possibly Carolina. It's a virtual certainty that the Bucs and Jets, both without a bonafide No. 1 quarterback entering the draft, will bid aggressively for Cutler.
Cutler, 25, was the Broncos' first pick and 11th overall in the 2006 draft. Although his record as a starter is only 17-20, he is widely considered to be a player a team can install at quarterback and not worry about the position for the next decade.
He threw for 4,526 yards in 2008, but his relationship with the franchise soured after the man who drafted him, Coach Mike Shanahan, was fired by Bowlen in January and after an offensive coordinator he highly respected, Jeremy Bates, left for a similar position at USC when McDaniels chose not to keep him.
The day before free agency began in late February, McDaniels entertained two offers -- thought to be from Tampa Bay and Detroit -- in deals that would have netted the Broncos former McDaniels' pupil Matt Cassell from New England.
When Cutler discovered he had been shopped, he was furious because McDaniels had spoken to him as though he would be the long-term quarterback. Over the last month Cutler has simply been unable to get over it.