First-round draft choice Jay Cutler, who struggled at times in the spring but is still regarded as the Denver Broncos' quarterback of the future, on Thursday evening reached agreement on a six-year contract.
The deal came shortly after the team's scheduled report time but still got the former Vanderbilt star into training camp in plenty of time for Friday's initial practice session. The contract has a maximum value of about $48 million, counting escalators and incentives, and includes $11 million in bonuses.
"It's done, and then I expect to be on the field in the morning," Cutler told the Rocky Mountain News. "I knew it would get done. I never really had a doubt about it."
It marked the second big quarterback signing of the day, with the Tennessee Titans earlier striking a deal with Vince Young of Texas. That leaves Matt Leinart of Southern California as the lone first-round quarterback without an agreement. ESPN.com has learned that Leinart's agent, Tom Condon of CAA, is scheduled to meet Friday with Arizona Cardinals officials.
When the Broncos used the 11th overall choice in the draft to grab Cutler, there was immediate speculation the move signaled unhappiness with incumbent Jake Plummer, and some predicted that the rookie might vie for the starting job. But like most first-year quarterbacks, Cutler had uneven stretches during the spring minicamps and will probably start the season No. 3 on the depth chart.
That said, there is little doubt that coach Mike Shanhan is looking to the future at the game's most critical position and feels Cutler is the Broncos' long-term guy.
A big, raw-boned passer whose toughness and moxie have drawn comparisons to Brett Favre, Cutler started in all 34 of his appearances in college. He completed 710-of-1,242 pass attempts for 8,697 yards, with 54 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions. Surprisingly quick for his size (6-feet-3, 226 pounds), Cutler also ran for 1,256 yards and 17 touchdowns on 453 carries.
Cutler sustained a beating over four years while playing behind a suspect offensive line, but his toughness and reluctance to abandon the pocket impressed league scouts. He has a strong arm and excellent touch but a low release point and will have to work to improve his mechanics.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.