Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen released a statement Tuesday saying both he and coach Josh McDaniels had been unable to get quarterback Jay Cutler to call them back over the past 10 days.
As a result, the team has decided to trade Cutler, who they are convinced "no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."
Cutler and his agent have a different spin on the story, NFL senior analyst Chris Mortensen reports. Asked by text message whether Bowlen has directly tried to contact him, Cutler replied, "No."
His agent, Bus Cook, said the Broncos first got in touch with him on Tuesday.
"The perception that they've been burning the phone lines the last 10 days is wrong," Cook said. "In fact, the other day I asked Jay if he had heard from them and he said, 'no.' I didn't hear from them until yesterday [Tuesday] morning when [GM] Brian Xanders called me and said that Mr. Bowlen needs to speak with Jay now. I told him all I can do is leave Jay a message.
"I didn't reach Jay directly -- I don't know what he was doing -- but I left a message. Then Brian called at the end of the day and asked me if I had heard from him. I hadn't. I heard from Jay when he called to tell me he just saw on TV he was being traded. They can spin it the way they want to spin it."
A Broncos official scoffed at the notion that Bowlen didn't reach out directly to Cutler, suggesting that any owner would set up a call through a GM or a personal assistant.
Cutler told FoxSports.com on Wednesday night he did not think it would go this far.
"I was surprised they decided to trade me this soon," Cutler told FoxSports.com. "I didn't want to get traded. This wasn't me. They [the Broncos] had been going back and forth saying things, wanting me to be their quarterback and then they didn't.
"I really didn't want this. I love Denver. I really like my teammates. I didn't want it to get this far."
In the meantime, the Broncos have informed all interested teams that they want at least two first-round picks for Cutler and getting a quarterback in exchange is not a necessity, Mortensen reports. A team source said it was possible Cutler could be traded as soon as Friday.
One hang-up in the process may be that the Broncos have not given any team permission to speak with Cutler or his agent. Two teams have expressed some concern because they want to gauge Cutler's contract demands, which could snag a smooth transition in the event of a trade.
Mortensen is reporting the following teams' interest in Cutler:
• The Redskins are acting with urgency in their pursuit of Cutler but it doesn't appear the Broncos have interest in Jason Campbell. Consequently, even while the Redskins may be willing to offer two first-rounders for Cutler, they are trying to gauge interest elsewhere for Campbell. If the Broncos do deal with the Redskins, it would give them control of the 12th and 13th picks in the draft.
• The Lions are interested in Cutler and would be willing to send the Broncos the first pick in the draft. But the Broncos don't want it. Rather, the Broncos would ask for the Lions' second first-round pick (No. 20) and possibly their second-rounder (No. 33), or another first-round pick in 2010. The Lions don't believe they can financially bear the burden of paying for the first pick in this year's draft, as well as sign Cutler to a contract extension.
• The Jets and Buccaneers are also involved in talks with the Broncos.
• The Panthers have some level of interest and are not opposed to including defensive end Julius Peppers in trade discussions. However, even though the Broncos have a need for a player of Peppers' caliber, they are reluctant because signing Peppers to a new contract, a necessity to complete a trade with Carolina, is cost-prohibitive for the team.
Cutler has been unhappy ever since learning that McDaniels failed to inform him about trade talks in which the Broncos showed interest in Matt Cassel. Cassel wound up being traded by New England to Kansas City, and Cutler asked to be traded.
Still, McDaniels had faith he could repair the strained relationship with his temperamental quarterback -- if only he could get him to call him back. On Tuesday, he became convinced that just wasn't going to happen.
Cutler is halfway through the six-year, $48 million contract he signed as the 11th overall pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2006 draft. He's 17-20 as Broncos starter, although that's misleading because of Denver's dismal defense.
In games in which the Broncos have allowed 21 points or fewer, Cutler is an impressive 13-1, and that only loss was to Green Bay in 2007 when the Packers won the coin toss and Brett Favre threw an 82-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime.
Cutler set several franchise passing records last season, when he threw for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. In his 37-game career in Denver, he's completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 9,024 yards, 54 TDs and 37 interceptions.
Cutler was upset when Mike Shanahan was fired as coach and even requested that members of Shanahan's offensive staff be retained, which didn't happen.
He had started to come around, meeting several times with McDaniels and expressing an eagerness to learn his intricate Patriots-style attack that will replace the West Coast system he's been running since he was a rookie.
That all changed when word leaked that McDaniels had spoken with the Patriots about Cassel.
At the NFL owners' meetings in Southern California last week, McDaniels said the team was committed to Cutler, although he said no options, including trades, were being ruled out.
"I've always been optimistic," McDaniels said at the NFL meetings. "He's on our team, he's under contract, and I understand there's things we have to work toward in our relationship."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.