Jay Cutler said Monday that he went "back and forth" on whether to remain in broadcasting or sign with the Miami Dolphins, but his wife, TV personality Kristin Cavallari, ultimately talked him into continuing his NFL career.
Cutler parted with the Chicago Bears in March after eight seasons, and was then hired by Fox as an analyst to work in its No. 2 NFL broadcast booth. Dolphins coach Adam Gase reached out to Cutler shortly after starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury last Thursday.
Gase, who was Cutler's offensive coordinator with the Bears in 2015, said Monday that Cutler needed no persuading to launch a comeback. But Cutler likened the conversations with Gase to college recruiting, saying the decision to return was difficult.
"The last four months I've been in a different mindset, getting ready for the Fox deal,'' Cutler said. "I was pretty good with where I was in my life; I was around the kids a lot and felt pretty content. So I went back and forth on this. My wife talked me into it more than anybody else. ... I think she got tired of me being around the house.''
Cutler missed Monday's practice because it took place as he landed in South Florida to sign a $10 million, one-year contract. Gase said that Cutler won't play in the Dolphins' preseason opener Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Cutler, 34, said "a situation like this doesn't come along very often."
"I know Adam very well; I know the system. And you're talking about a playoff team with a lot of really, really good players and a lot of potential," he said.
"I'm not surprised," Bears tight end Zach Miller said of Cutler's decision. "I knew he had a lot of football left. I'm happy to have him back in the game. Obviously he's a great friend of mine. To have him back in football is cool for me, because I get to watch him play. Hopefully he'll ball out."
Gase said he doesn't expect Cutler to have any learning curve with the offensive scheme.
"I'm pretty sure he's already got it,'' Gase said. "He's good.''
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.''
Cutler said his two sons and pickup basketball games at his alma mater, Vanderbilt, helped him stay in shape. He missed time last year with a sprained right thumb and a labrum injury that required season-ending right shoulder surgery in December, but said he's healthy now and confident his arm will be fine.
"It'll come back pretty quickly,'' Cutler said. "I'm not worried about the throwing part. Getting used to the guys and the more detailed stuff, that's what we're going to have to hit the fast-forward button on.''
Cutler also joked that he doesn't have to be in the same condition as some of the team's other players.
"The good thing is I play quarterback, so I don't really have to be in that great of cardiovascular shape," Cutler kidded.
The acquisition of Cutler has potential to divide a locker room where backup quarterback Matt 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.