Source: Fox likely to welcome back Miami Dolphins’ Jay Cutler to booth

There’s a good chance Jay Cutler will be behind a microphone often next fall. (AP)

There’s little chance Jay Cutler will be unemployed next season.

Although it’s unlikely the Dolphins will bring him back, indications are that the door is very much open for Cutler to return to Fox — if “return” is the right word — as a game analyst.

You’ll recall that last year, Fox was so impressed by Cutler’s audition that the network quickly moved to name him their No. 2 game analyst as a rookie broadcaster for 2017. Fox had him pegged to work with play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt and analyst Charles Davis, along with sideline reporter Pam Oliver.

Word was Fox intentionally planned a three-man booth as a safeguard in the event someone offered Cutler a quarterbacking job for 2017.

Naturally, that’s what happened when Ryan Tannehill injured a knee in preseason and Adam Gase called on Cutler to give it one more year. Now that Tannehill is expected to return as Miami’s starting QB next season — not to mention that Cutler, 34, has no desire to be a backup — there’s a good chance you’ll hear Cutler sharing his knowledge on TV next fall.

A source at Fox Sports said despite Cutler’s abrupt departure this summer, he did not leave on bad terms. Quite the contrary, “Everybody understood this could potentially happen,” the source said. “The executives were very understanding the stars could be aligning for Jay. The door is not closed.”

It’s too early to say what the next move will be — whether Cutler or his agent will have to pick up the phone to initiate dialog or whether the overtures will come from Fox.

Fox might, in fact, be even more eager to hire Cutler this year than last, given the tremendous success CBS has had this season with another quarterback-turned-rookie-analyst, Tony Romo.

Romo immediately stepped into the top analyst role and performed far beyond his years, conducting virtual classes on game strategy for viewers. He also drew raves for his knack for predicting plays.

Another wrinkle in Cutler’s future could be widespread speculation that the Raiders are going to rehire Jon Gruden as their coach. That would create an analyst opening for ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecasts alongside Sean McDonough. Considering MNF is the highest-rated show on cable, this would be a high-profile gig that, at least for now, has no favorite to be Gruden’s successor.

For most of his career, Cutler was regarded as aloof, especially for a quarterback, so the transition to television caught many off-guard. Not so with Gase, who staunchly defended his former QB in Chicago in May, when Fox’s hiring was announced.

“I guess I know a different guy than what everybody portrays,” Gase said at the time. “A lot of things that have been said about him in the past has been (B.S.).”

A Sports Illustrated piece on Cutler’s broadcasting potential included a quote from Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh, who said Cutler has a dry sense of humor and is smart, which few doubted, given his Vanderbilt background.

South Florida experienced a sprinkling of Cutler’s personality despite the 6-10 season. At one point, Cutler described what it was like living in a hotel all season.

“It was cool at first,” he said. “Maid service every day. That’s kind of nice. The movies, you get the on-demand movies, but they don’t change as often as you would like. It’s kind of a monthly thing. So after you watch them all in a month, you’ve got to wait a little while.”

There was one other benefit, he said: “I did get the points. I think that’ll pay off somewhere down the line, right?”

Another time, a reporter tried to peer into his mind as he goes through progressions on a passing play. If the No. 1 option isn’t open, what then?

“Number 2,” Cutler said.

Pause.

“Three is after that.”

Then a check-down?

“Depends. Sometimes five.”

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