May 5 (UPI) -- Instead of signing up for a 12th NFL season, quarterback Jay Cutler has chosen the broadcast booth.
The former Chicago Bears gunslinger announced Friday he is leaving the NFL and joining FOX Sports.
NFL Network reported Thursday that Cutler was exploring the idea, according to sources and people with knowledge of Cutler's thinking.
"I don't know if retirement is the right word; I don't feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL," Cutler said in a statement, released by FOX Sports. "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."
The 34-year-old is married to former reality TV show star Kristin Cavallari. Cutler and Cavallari have three children. The big-armed quarterback previously talked with the New York Jets and Houston Texans before making the move, according to ESPN.
"Words can't express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me along 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 you 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."
NFL Network reported that the Texans didn't return Cutler's calls of interest.
Texans general manager Rick Smith has denied that the franchise ignored Cutler's calls.
"I don't know why that was reported. That's just not true. I will tell you that that is not true," Smith said Wednesday on ESPN Radio.
Fellow veteran quarterback Tony Romo also decided to retire and enter the broadcast booth this offseason. Romo entered the league in 2004 as an undrafted free agent for teh Dallas Cowboys. Like Cutler, he became a full-time starter in 2006. Romo, 36, went 78-49, with a 97.1 quarterback rating in his career during the regular season, making four Pro Bowls. Cutler was 68-71, with an 85.7 quarterback rating during his career. Romo announced in April that he was joining the crew at CBS as a color commentator.
The Jets cut Cutler on March 9. He was originally due a $12.5 million base salary in 2017.
Cutler began his career in 2006 after being picked as the No. 11 overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played three seasons for the Broncos, making the Pro Bowl in 2008. Cutler was then traded along with a fifth-round pick to the Chicago Bears in 2009 in exchange for two first-round draft selections, a third-round pick and quarterback Kyle Orton.
"We're thrilled to welcome Jay to the FOX Sports family," FOX Sports president of production and executive producer John 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."