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Monday, April 21, 2014
Is there more to Kyle Orton's absence?

By Calvin Watkins

It could mean nothing, or everything, but backup quarterback Kyle Orton didn't attend the first day of the Dallas Cowboys' offseason workouts.

There is no word if Orton had something planned and couldn't get out of it, or he's thinking of leaving the sport.

It's a strange absence on the first day of the workouts considering starter Tony Romo, who is recovering from back surgery, was working out with his teammates.

Orton's status has been a mystery this offseason because of conflicting reports regarding his playing status. There were thoughts Orton wanted to retire but after discussions with coach Jason Garrett, it was revealed the backup quarterback wanted to continue playing.

Orton's agent, David Dunn, said retirement wasn't a consideration for the quarterback, but there were team officials still trying to figure out what he wanted to do.

If Orton departs the game, he stands to lose $3.5 million in base salary for 2014 and he might have to repay the Cowboys $3 million in bonuses paid.

It just doesn't make sense for Orton to retire. He didn't seem to be displeased with his status on the team. After all, when he signed that three-year $10.5 million contract, he knew Romo was the starter.

It's not like Orton was coming here to compete with Tim Tebow, a man who eventually took his job in Denver.

Orton played well in the regular season finale against Philadelphia for an injured Romo. Orton completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was Orton's final pass of the season, an interception, intended for Miles Austin, which ended the Cowboys' chances of a potential victory.

Maybe Orton's absence is nothing and he will show up this week and everything will be forgotten.

In the big picture of things Orton is a short timer and Brandon Weeden is projected as the No. 2 quarterback in 2015.

Of course, Weeden's status could change should the Cowboys change coaching staffs after 2014 and the new coach wants a different backup.

Orton missing the opening of the offseason program just leads to more speculation but we've been told he's coming back for 2014, unless he's changed his mind.