New Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler won't play in the team's exhibition opener Thursday, but look for him to be starting soon enough.
"He didn't come out of retirement to stand on the sideline," coach Adam Gase said.
Gase spoke Monday after practice, which coincided with Cutler's arrival in South Florida to sign a $10 million, one-year deal. The 34-year-old Cutler decided to delay the start of his network TV career for the chance to replace Ryan Tannehill and be reunited with Gase, his former offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears.
"A situation like this just doesn't come along very often. I know Adam very well, I've known him since '06, the first year I came out," Cutler said at a press conference Monday afternoon. "I know the system. You're talking about a playoff team, with a lot of really really good football players, a lot of potential. It's one of those things that there weren't a lot of opportunities or jobs out there if they would have came up I would have taken but this is gotta be top of the list."
Cutler is expected to leapfrog longtime Dolphins backup Matt Moore for the starting job while Tannehill remains out with a left knee injury that likely will sideline him for the entire season.
"I'm a little bit behind these guys, they've been going through training camp and stuff like that so I'm not quite there yet but it won't take me long," Cutler said.
Cutler said he felt "content" with the new TV job but said his wife, reality star Kristin Cavallari, helped talk him into joining the Dolphins.
Gase reached out to Cutler shortly after Tannehill was hurt Thursday and said the veteran quarterback needed no persuading to launch a comeback. Cutler parted with the Bears in March after eight seasons, and was then hired by Fox as an analyst to work in its No. 2 NFL broadcast booth.
In 2015, Cutler had a career-best quarterback rating while with Gase, who then joined the Dolphins.
"I feel good about where Jay was the past couple of years," Gase said, "and I feel good about how he fits in with us."
What will Cutler's learning curve be with the offensive scheme?
"I'm pretty sure he's already got it," Gase said. "He's good."
Ramping up Cutler's arm strength may take longer, Gase said.
"I'm sure he wasn't in the backyard throwing a hundred balls a day," the coach said.
The acquisition has potential to divide a locker room where Moore enjoys strong support, especially after he helped Miami clinch a playoff berth while Tannehill was sidelined last December.
But Gase is popular with his players and said he explained to them why he wanted Cutler.
"I was very upfront with everything," Gase said. "We felt this gave us an opportunity to have two really good quarterbacks on our team. We wanted to make sure if something happened, we weren't going to have a falloff. I think our guys understand that."
That includes Moore. He said he still considers himself a contender for the starting job after a drama-free conversation with Gase about the need to sign Cutler.
"It was very simple and straightforward," he said. "It wasn't very Hollywood. And I get it."
Receiver Kenny Stills said that while Moore is "our guy," there's no quarterback controversy among the players.
"We're confident in the people upstairs to do the right thing for this team," Stills said.
Still to be determined is how quickly Cutler can shake off the rust and lingering doubts about his attitude, toughness and decision-making, all of which were often questioned in Chicago.
He went 51-51 as a Bears starter. Among his teammates was guard Jermon Bushrod, now with Miami.
"I know the guy," Bushrod said. "I've seen how he is in the huddle. I've seen how he is in the locker room. The message portrayed by some of the major broadcasting networks isn't what we see or feel.
"People are going to have things to say. But if you win games, nobody says anything."
Cutler's chance to revise his reputation came after Tannehill's left knee buckled a week into training camp. He decided against surgery after missing the final four games of last season with two sprained ligaments in his knee, but the latest injury likely will require an operation.
Tannehill stood near midfield Monday watching practice, wearing a brace on his left knee and conversing with the coaching staff and quarterbacks.
"We were talking about the stages you go through," Gase said. "We were both saying we keep going out of order — from denial to anger to depressed, and back to denial. It's tough."
"He's excited, he's excited to get back down here, he's excited to get back in the building with Gase, He wasn't ready to fully hang it up yet and I feel him, I understand where he's coming from," Bushrod said. "The broadcasting thing would have been a cool gig for him but he still has some football left and I just told him that we're excited to see him down here."