"He'd be great in this offense,'' Cutler said of Olsen, now with the Panthers team visiting Soldier Field on Sunday. "Greg definitely would fit what we're doing right now as a tight end getting down the field, hitting the seams … just doing a lot of stuff.''
Then Mike Martz took over. Olsen's role diminished.
Olsen was traded to the Panthers for a third-round draft pick later used to acquire Marshall.
"At the time, the Bears made the best move for us, offensive-wise," Cutler said. "We didn't want to use him. It was a waste.''
Olsen had all the talent to become the Bears' first Pro Bowl tight end since Hall of Famer Mike Ditka in 1966. He is of the same mold of the swift, pass-catching tight ends that have become fashionable around the league these days. And Olsen perhaps came the closest among a long line of tight ends to helping the Bears accomplish something the franchise has been unable to do for decades: Replace Ditka.
Ditka is not sold on such a tight end being a dire need for the Bears.
"They're trying to stretch the field a little more by getting the outside receivers involved," he said. "So I don't see that as a problem right now. I really don't.''
Cutler understands Ditka reasoning but disagrees somewhat.
"I'm selfish. I mean, I want everything,'' Cutler said. "I would love to have (a pass-catching tight end). It's a luxury item by the way (Ditka) is talking. If you do have a guy like that and you know how to use him, it can be a dangerous thing.
"Look at the Patriots. Look at New Orleans. Even with all those weapons those teams have, they're still showcasing that guy. If you don't have one … you can, by all means, be successful without a guy like that. But if you know how to use him, he can be quite a weapon.''
Cutler has targeted his tight end trio of Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth, and Kyle Adams 27 times this year. They have 12 catches combined. Seven tight ends in the NFL already have 30-plus catches, led by the Falcons' Tony Gonzalez (43 catches) and the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (35).
Rookie Evan Rodriguez, based on his preseason showing, appeared on track to fill that pass-catching role. Then he was converted to fullback. Now, the Bears believe they have a capable downfield and red-zone tight end threat in Davis. Yet Davis would be the first to say he has quite a ways to go to reach the likes of Gonzalez and Gronkowski.
What's in a name?
Davis never watched much pro football growing up in Adrian, Mich., but he was aware of the guy his parents named him for: Kellen Winslow Sr.
"I think my parents just liked his name,'' Davis said. "It's not like they were big fans.''
Winslow, who played his entire career with the Chargers, is a Hall of Famer and went to the Pro Bowl five times. The Bears don't expect Davis to duplicate those accomplishments, but they continue to have high expectations for the former fifth-round draft pick from Michigan State.
"How do I become more of a weapon? We just have to get some more looks,'' Davis said. "That just means us making more plays for Jay. We do it all week in practice. Just have to translate that to the game field.''