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Ex-Bears QB Cutler calls audible, joins FOX Sports to become broadcaster

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) lays on the field after a late hit by New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon (54, not pictured) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Cutler called an audible, agreeing to a contract with FOX Sports on Friday after a tepid free agent market helped guide the 34-year-old into broadcasting.

Cutler's contract places him on the No. 2 NFL broadcast team at FOX.

A former first-round pick, Cutler spent the past eight seasons with the Chicago Bears. But he was let go by the John Fox-led regime in March and no serious suitors emerged.

Cutler auditioned with FOX on Thursday. The network was seeking a replacement for John Lynch after the latter became the San Francisco 49ers' general manager earlier this offseason.

Cutler will be part of a three-man booth with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis.

The 34-year-old Cutler has not officially announced his retirement since being released by the Bears on March 9. The Bears filled the quarterback spot with free agent Mike Glennon and drafted Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Cutler released a personal statement Friday morning to thank "everyone along the way."

"I don't know if retirement is the right word; I don't feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL," Cutler wrote. "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.

"Words can't express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me along the my journey. I started playing tackle football at the age of 10 and was so lucky to have supportive parents and great coaches along the way that made my path possible. If I listed each person individually, this would quickly turn into an essay, but you know who are and I wouldn't be in this situation without you. So thank you.

"To my parents, my sisters, my wife and kids -- thank you for putting your wants and needs on the back burner while I played a game every Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You made it all possible.

"I recently read a quote that struck a cord with me at the time. It was attributed to Henry Rollins (but with the internet these days, you can never be too sure who really said it). '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."

Jon Entz, FOX Sports president of production and executive producer, confirmed Cutler's hiring in a statement.

"We're thrilled to welcome Jay to the Fox Sports family," 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."

A former Pro Bowl quarterback leaving the playing field for the broadcast booth has become a familiar story on the heels of Tony Romo joining CBS last month.

A week before the draft, Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, insisted Cutler still wanted to play "if the right offer comes along."

Over his eight seasons in Chicago, Cutler became the Bears' all-time leader in passing yards (23,443) and touchdowns (154) in 102 games. The Bears made the playoffs just once duringCutler's tenure with the team.

Cutler ranks first in Bears' history in wins and losses (51-51) plus interceptions thrown with 109, an average of more than one per game. He threw a career-worst 26 interceptions in 2009, his first of eight seasons in Chicago.

The Bears acquired Cutler from the Denver Broncos for multiple draft picks on April 3, 2009. With Denver, Cutler threw for 9,024 yards and 54 touchdowns opposite 37 interceptions in 37 games over three seasons.