In March of 2009, there were reports that the Vikings were interested in making a trade with the Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler. Minnesota, you’ll recall, was coming off a 10-6 playoff season in 2008 and felt it was a quarterback away from being a serious contender.
What we don’t know is how serious the Vikings ever got in those talks, but Cutler was traded that offseason to the Bears. In a world of hypotheticals, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that, more than five years later, it is incredibly fun and interesting to look back at that pivotal moment and wonder “what if the Vikings had acquired Jay Cutler?”
• First and foremost, Brett Favre never would have been a quarterback for the Vikings. Acquiring Cutler would have been Minnesota’s signature quarterback move, and he would have been the one entrusted with getting a playoff team to the next step. Favre, of course, almost got the Vikings to the Super Bowl. What would Cutler have done? Hard to say, but he did throw 26 interceptions in his first season with the Bears. Our guess is he would not have played as well as Favre did in 2009.
• The Vikings probably never would have had Percy Harvin. In order to get Cutler from the Broncos, the Bears traded Kyle Orton, two first-round picks and a third-round pick. Minnesota almost certainly would have had to include their 2009 No. 1 pick in that deal, which is the pick they used on Harvin.
• Does a second go-round with Randy Moss happen? Maybe, but those were such particular circumstances in 2010 that it’s hard to say.
• The Vikings also probably never would have drafted Christian Ponder. Even if Cutler had ups and downs, as he has had in Chicago — the latest down, of course, was announced Thursday as he was benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen — he’s a good enough QB and the Vikings would have had enough invested in him that it’s very unlikely they would have chosen a QB in the 2011 draft (assuming they hadn’t traded that pick, too, to get Cutler).
• The Bears’ search for a QB would have continued. Not that Cutler has been great, but his 84.4 passer rating in Chicago is better than they were accustomed to getting. Maybe they would have taken Tim Tebow in 2010?
• The Vikings have gone 42-51-1 with two playoff appearances since 2009. The Bears have gone 49-45 (44-37 in Cutler’s starts) with one playoff appearance. We dare say both franchises — despite everything — are better off for having things happen the way they did.