Jay Cutler will be introduced as the Bears' next quarterback Friday in a 5 p.m. press conference. Here is what general manager Jerry Angelo had to say about a whirlwind day Thursday at Halas Hall:
Well, we had a big day as everybody knows today. We're very happy with the outcome, not only of making the trade for Jay Cutler but also the signing of Orlando Pace. It just all came together, and really it came together unexpectedly. We didn't know for sure what the timetable was, particularly about the trade. We had plenty of time to think about the trade given all that has been going on about the Denver situation with Jay. We had a chance to talk amongst us. I came to the conclusion after talking to Lovie [Smith] and Ted [Phillips] as well as ownership that I felt like we needed to pursue this, and if we decide to get in it, we want to get in it to win it. My understanding is that there were quite a few teams that were in this; to what degree I can't answer that. I do know that we really didn't know for sure where we stood in this whole process until maybe an hour before it got done.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU IN TERMS OF THE SALARY CAP?
BRAD'S NOTE: Cutler's salary this season is $1.03 million, representing actually a cap saving compared to Kyle Orton
We're fine. As you know, he's under contract. He signed a six-year contract and he has played three years of that. So that really had no significance in any of this.
WHY IS THIS A MOVE YOU FELT YOU HAD TO MAKE?
As we've talked about postseason, and I don't want to do anything to diminish how we felt about Kyle and I want to make that real clear to everybody. We like Kyle very much. I felt very comfortable if we were going into this season with Kyle, we were fine. This came up unexpectedly. We looked into it. We just felt like in our best interest looking now and in the future, we can't minimize the importance of the position. We've talked about that. I know personally it's been something that has been my goal for the organization and felt this was the right thing to do.
WHAT CONCERNS DO YOU HAVE ABOUT REPORTS OF CUTLER'S ATTITUDE IN DENVER?
I don't personally have any concerns. I know Lovie and I talked about that. We did, like I'm sure a lot of people that were interested in trading for Jay, a lot of work, not just when he was with Denver, going back to his days at Vanderbilt. One of our area scouts, Rex Hogan, lives right in the Nashville area, really developed a great rapport during the process prior to the draft. We felt that he's a very good person, a good leader. He had some things that happened in Denver. We recognize those, but we treated them as just speed-bumps, part of the growing process. He's highly competitive, he's highly emotional. That just comes with the territory.
HOW RARE TO HAVE CHANCE TO GET 26-YEAR OLD PRO BOWL QUARTERBACK?
It's the first time for me. When you just look at the history of the league, I can't recall a situation quite like this. How it matriculated to the point it got to, I can't answer anything of that. All we did was reacted to a situation that we felt would benefit our football team.
WHAT IS THE NEXT BIGGEST ISSUE YOU NEED TO ADDRESS?
I can't sit here and tell you that we're pristine at other positions, but we feel good that we can take our present team and play, so anything that we do going forward is going to create more competition, particularly at the receiver position. We want to get a little more depth in the secondary, but feel good about our team, feel good about some of the prospects that we accomplish with the draft too to reach those goals.
HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO CUTLER?
He's like everybody a little bit in shock, excited. One of the things too that was communicated to us throughout is that he's a big Bears fan, grew up a Bears fan, and excited to be here in Chicago. He's a Midwesterner, so he knows a lot about our history as a club. Playing in the Midwest, growing up, I think's a real asset as well. He's very excited.
THIS IS THE BOLDEST MOVE YOU'VE MADE, WAS THERE EVER ANY HESITATION ABOUT IT?
The rarity of the opportunity makes it unique. But really being in this situation as long as I have been, you just know when thing s are right. Part of it's a gut feeling. Obviously we've done a lot of homework. We talked internally quite a bit as an organization. We try to do everything to the best of our ability; measure twice and cut once. Everybody felt good about this, and we felt again if we were going to get in it, the biggest decision that I had to make, and make sure everybody was aware of in the organization, and it starts with ownership, and everybody including ownership and Lovie [Smith] were 100 percent behind this. We felt if we get in it, we have to get in it to win it.
YOU'VE BEEN WITH THE BEARS A WHILE NOW, AT ANY POINT DID YOU WONDER IF YOU WOULD EVER FIND A QUARTERBACK?
I'm not ruling out that we didn't have optimism for Kyle. I don't want to make anybody think that we didn't have respect for Kyle because we did. I think part of this--and I'm speaking from my perspective, I'm not speaking for Denver--but I feel that what really facilitated t his trade was that Kyle was part of it. I think the draft compensation, given what I was to understand was very similar with other teams. But they like Kyle Orton, and I think that was part of it, and I can see why they like Kyle. Kyle for us in Soldier Field had a 15-2 record. So I don't want anybody looking at this that this was a move of desperateness. It certainly wasn't.
DID CUTLER'S DIABETES HAVE ANY IMPACT ON YOUR DECISION PROCESS?
All those questions and all those things that he had to deal with, he dealt with in Denver. That's totally under control. He had severe weight loss. Once they diagnosed what it was, he's addressed it, he's got his weight back and he's probably heavier than he's ever been, and that's all under control. I talked to our medical people and they said he's gone through all the speed bumps, so we feel real good going forward that that should not be an issue.
IF HE PLAYS AT PRO BOWL LEVEL, HOW MUCH WILL HE HELP EVERYONE ELSE?
I think it will bode very well for everybody. I've always said this: you win because of your quarterback. He 's always been the centerpiece of most great football players. Our goal like 31 other teams is to be the best we can be and win a championship.
HOW MUCH DOES CUTLER'S ARM STRENGTH CHANGE THE OFFENSE?
I can't sit here and tell you how much it's going to change the offense. I'd like to think that our offense is going to be very productive with Jay as our quarterback. But that will be determined by our coaches and obviously how Jay integrates to a new system.
WHAT DOES ORLANDO PACE BRING?
We really feel that it gives us a very good offensive line now. We've had some real good success with veteran players--John Tait, Fred Miller, Ruben Brown--and we felt that Orlando is the same in terms of the mold. He's a potential Hall of Fame player. He expressed to us on his visit that he wants to play and continue to play and he feels that his health is probably as good as it's been in a while and he wanted to play here. He and Lovie had a relationship in St. Louis and we felt he's another good person, not only in terms of what he brings to our football team as a player, but what he b rings to our locker room and with our younger players that we have another good model.
HAS CUTLER EXPRESSED INTEREST TO RECEIVE A NEW CONTRACT?
No, we have not talked to his agent about that.
DID YOU EVER ENVISION YOUR OFFSEASON WOULD BE SO DRAMATIC?
I thought that Jamaica trip was still in the foreseeable future. But when all this started to come about, I had to cancel that. It's tough to think exactly what's going to happen in the offseasons today in the NFL as we all know.
WHO ELSE WAS CONNECTED TO THIS TRADE?
[Pro personnel director] Bobby [DePaul] was our conduit between us and Denver. He had a familiarity with one of the personnel people. I wanted Bobby to help facilitate that given that he had a relationship with some people with Denver. They're a new crew. I got a chance to meet some of them at the owners meetings. But this was a true team effort."
DID ORTON PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE DEAL GETTING DONE, THAT IS HOW YOU UNDERSTAND IT?
That's what my opinion would be. I can't sit here and talk for Denver. But just going through all the back and forth, Kyle was very much an integral part of this trade. I talked to Kyle's agent, David Dunn, as well. They did a lot of work on Kyle. I know that personally. They spent an inordinate amount of time watching the tape, breaking down the season, With the technology the way it is, you can facilitate that now very quickly, and they felt very good, and I think that was a key component to make this happen.
HAVE YOU TALKED TO KYLE?
I didn't talk to Kyle personally. I talked to Kyle's agent. Lovie had Kyle come in and visited with Kyle, so I really can't speak for Kyle at this point outside of the fact that we wish him nothing but the best and have nothing but high respect for the things that he did here and how he's handled himself.
DID YOU ASK CUTLER ABOUT THE LAST MONTH IN DENVER?
We've been in tune to all of it. We as you know cannot talk to the player. He was under contract. But there was so much written, read and said you didn't have to be any fly on the wall to know what was going on.
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEST QUARTERBACK IN DIVISION NOW?
We're going to have to wait and see how he plays. We feel good about who he is obviously. We made a tremendous commitment. But he's got to go out there and do it. He's up for the challenge, I know that in talking to him. He's excited about being in the NFC, he's excited about being a Chicago Bear, and that's what the starting point will be for Jay Cutler.