Cowboys expect Kyle Orton to return

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
3:00
PM ET
ORLANDO -- Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he expects backup quarterback Kyle Orton to return in 2014.

There was some concern following the 2013 season that Orton would retire, but apparently finances and the lure of playing one more year proved to be too great.

"Yes, that’s how I understand it," Jones said at the NFL owners meetings on Monday. "I guess everyone reserves the right to change their mind. We’ve just talked to (Orton's agent) Dave (Dunn) briefly. We’re assuming he’s under contract and he is."

Orton is scheduled to make a base salary of $3.25 million in 2014 and has a cap number of $4.377 million. If Orton retires, he would need to pay the Cowboys at least $3 million.

Orton's contract doesn't end until 2016, yet, the Cowboys have until the 23rd day of the 2015 league year to void the last two seasons of his contract, which they are expected to do. Orton played well for an injured Tony Romo in the 2013 regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Orton completed 30-of-46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The last interception, in the fourth quarter, sealed the victory for the Eagles and knocked the Cowboys from playoff contention.

When the season ended, some thought Orton might retire, but further conversations with him indicated otherwise.

What also led to speculation that the Cowboys and Orton would part ways is the signing of Brandon Weeden as the No. 3 QB. Weeden, a 2012 first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, lasted two seasons before getting released.

The Cowboys have signed him to a two-year contract.

Jones said Weeden's signing had nothing to do with Orton.

"That was an opportunity," Jones said. "I think it was well-documented that we had him in our second round. That was a chance to get a quarterback -- I know he’s not young -- but he’s young as far as league years are concerned. We like him. But if he proves out he’s worth developing, then we’ll carry three, like we did with (Stephen) McGee for many years."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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