-- As the Miami Dolphins continue to brace for the likelihood that Ryan Tannehill will undergo surgery to repair stretched ligaments in his left knee, they remain focused on Jay Cutler as their top choice to replace him, sources close to the situation said Sunday.
As of Saturday, Cutler was reluctant about a possible return to football, although he hadn't made any decision with certainty. Aware of his reluctance, but after a day of no direct communication with Cutler, head coach Adam Gase was eventually able to talk to him.
In May, it was announced that Cutler would join Fox Sports as a game analyst.
Cutler still has not given the Dolphins an outright "no," the sources said, and the team does have some willingness to remain somewhat patient, given how much of an unexpected situation this has become to all involved.
The team and Cutler's football agent, Bus Cook, have discussed potential compensation, and while they weren't yet able to reach a compromise in money, there is not much of a sense that Cutler's reluctance is simply a leverage play. Instead, if Cutler is going to return, he wants to make sure the abrupt change of lifestyle is monetarily worthwhile, sources said.
At this point, if Cutler is to return, it would likely be the result of Gase's convincing. And while the Dolphins certainly recognize their need for a quarterback, the team (especially Gase) isn't likely to reach a point of desperation with Cutler. The Dolphins remain subtly patient. A longer lack of commitment from Cutler would most certainly change that internal demeanor.
For now, Cutler and the Dolphins are on the same page: Both realize he needs to be 100 percent committed to a return to the field. Unless and until he reaches that point, neither party is interested in moving forward.