In his first offseason interview, one sprinkled with unusually blunt criticism, the Denver Broncos quarterback called out his No. 1 receiver and fellow third-year star who suffered a gash on his right forearm while horsing around last month.
"Yeah, he's not my favorite person right now," Cutler said. "I mean, I support him, but it's always something with him right now."
With Jeremy Bates taking over the Broncos' passing game, Cutler said Tuesday that it was imperative for Marshall to participate in all the offseason workouts, but he won't be back in action until training camp.
"We're going to be fine. I'm not that overly concerned about it, but it just would be nice coming into our third year, coming off a big year he had last year, for him to get more work done and get more time in and just a little more trust out there," Cutler said. "But it's going to take some time now, maybe training camp, maybe even longer."
Marshall, who emerged as Cutler's primary target during a breakout 2007 season, said he was horsing around with his older brother at a resort in Orlando, Fla., when he fell into a television set, cutting an artery, a vein, a nerve, two tendons and three muscles in his right arm.
Marshall has found himself in the news a lot lately. He faces a DUI charge stemming from an October incident and had a spat with his girlfriend last year that landed him in court. And he was partying with Darrent Williams the night the cornerback was slain in a drive-by shooting on Jan. 1, 2006. Former teammate Javon Walker said Marshall sprayed champagne on some bar patrons, sparking a confrontation that preceded the shooting, which remains unsolved.
"I've talked to him many times. I think a lot of people have. ... He knows he's running out of chances," Cutler said. "This wasn't like his DUI and other stuff he's had. It was an accident, but still, things like that can't happen. He knows it.
"But like I told him, I said, 'Brandon, they're going to quit giving you chances and you're going to have to go somewhere else. And that's going to be a shame.'"
Marshall said last week that he realizes he has to grow up and that his freak injury was a wakeup call.
"His DUI was a wakeup call," Cutler retorted. "He's had many wakeup calls. I mean, he's been in [coach Mike] Shanahan's office many times. I've been up there with him. He said the same thing: 'This is a wakeup call. This is the last thing that's going to happen. Blah blah blah.' I mean, until he goes out and proves it, we'll see what happens.'"
Cutler wants to have trust in his No. 1 receiver.
"I love Brandon to death and he's a great kid at heart. I don't think he goes out there looking for trouble. He's not at bars late. He's not doing those things that other people do. It's just something about him. He's always into something," Cutler said. "Like I told him, 'I haven't lost faith in you. I'll still support you. But ... you're going to have to prove yourself this time.'"
Marshall, a fourth-round draft choice in 2006 out of Central Florida, blossomed into the Broncos' best receiver last year, facilitating the recent release of Walker, who was replaced by free agent Keary Colbert.
Cutler isn't losing any sleep over the departure of the oft-injured and often cranky Walker, who signed t with the rival Oakland Raiders.
"Javon's a great receiver, but Javon he likes the spotlight and he likes the ball coming to him a lot," Cutler said. "With Brandon and him out there it would be tough. You've got to have a No. 1 guy you want to go to. I think Brandon was going to be my guy. I don't know if Javon was going to be OK with 40, 50, 60 balls."
The free agent departure Cutler is fretting over is the loss of 15-year veteran kicker Jason Elam, who had four game-winning field goals last season and who signed with Atlanta for $3.3 million guaranteed money in 2008, nearly $1 million more than the cost-conscious Broncos were offering.
"I have a little worry about that," Cutler said. "I mean, one of the best clutch kickers in the game. Been here for that long. I was surprised to see we let him go."
"It's a big position for me," Cutler said.