May 5 (The Sports Xchange) - 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 number two 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 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 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, who has not officially retired, released a statement on Friday.
"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."
Jon Entz, FOX Sports president of production and executive producer, confirmed Cutler's hiring.
"We're thrilled to welcome Jay to the Fox Sports family," Entz said in a statement. "We're very excited about the potential he brings to the booth and are looking forward to hearing his analysis."
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.
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 in 2009. With Denver, Cutler threw for 9,024 yards and 54 touchdowns opposite 37 interceptions in 37 games over three seasons. (Editing by Gene Cherry)