Bears’ Jay Cutler, 34, heads to TV booth

Dan Wiederer
Chicago Tribune

Chicago — Jay Cutler’s playing days appear to be over. But his presence on TV on football Sundays will continue.

On Friday, it became official that Cutler will now be launching his broadcast career, hired by Fox Sports to be a color analyst on a broadcast team that also includes Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis.

In a press release, Fox Sports president of production and executive producer spoke enthusiastically about Cutler’s hiring.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jay to the Fox Sports family,” John Entz said. “We’re very excited about the potential he brings to the booth and are looking forward to hearing his analysis during what is sure to be another great season of the NFL on Fox.”

Cutler and Davis team up with Burkhardt after Burkhardt’s previous partner, John Lynch, left broadcasting this offseason to become the 49ers’ general manager.

The trio’s first broadcast will be the Bears’ third exhibition game, noon on Aug. 27 against the Titans in Nashville, Cutler’s home. Burkhardt revealed the schedule in an interview Friday on SiriusXM Radio.

Of course, Cutler will be tasked that day with analyzing his replacements with the Bears — Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky.

“The fact that’s going to be our first game out of the gate is pretty awesome stuff,” Burkhardt said.

Burkhardt was part of Cutler’s audition with Fox, which took place within the last two weeks. Cutler called him beforehand to ask for help on how to prepare and what to expect. Such intense advanced reconnaissance was unprecedented to Burkhardt.

“He went back and watched all these games and took notes as an analyst on some of the things the guys said and how they said it,” Burkhardt said. “I was really impressed by his whole preparation. I honestly was blown away by it.

“My gut when we got done, I was like: ‘Wow, he can do this.’ And that’s not always the case with those.”

Burkhardt believes Cutler will surprise folks whose impression of him is dour and withdrawn.

“He is smart,” Burkhardt said. “He’s engaging. And I really believe that in the short time I’ve gotten to know him and talk to him a bunch, there is a good, dry, sarcastic humor in there that’s going to make its way onto the air.”

Cutler’s time in Chicago ended in March when he was released by the Bears after eight seasons. His final season ended prematurely when he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder during a 22-16 road loss to the Giants in Week 11.

Cutler’s final pass was an interception to thwart a potential game-winning drive, his 146th career interception and his 109th as Bear in 102 regular season starts.

Cutler left the Bears as the franchise’s all-time leader in most major passing categories including completions, passing yards and touchdown passes.

In January 2014, Cutler signed a seven-year extension with the Bears that included $54 million in guaranteed money. But after landing that lucrative new deal, the Bears spent the next three seasons in last place in NFC North. They were 11-24 in Cutler starts after that deal was signed.

The interest in Cutler on the free agent market was tepid at best this spring. And the 34-year-old quarterback has now decided to pursue a new road, bringing his insight to the airwaves.

Cutler released a statement and spoke about the apparent end of his playing career. “I don’t know if retirement is the right word,” Cutler wrote. “I don’t feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL. You are either forced to leave or you lose the desire to do what’s required to keep going. I’m in between those situations at this point in my life.”

Cutler later cited a quote he believed originated with Henry Rollins. Wrote the quarterback: “’I did that, I gave everything I had to give to that. Now if I returned to that it would be repetition — it might be fun repetition, but it wouldn’t be meaningful repetition.’ Thank you to everyone along the way. You made my dream come true.”