NFL Nation: Broncos cut Orton

Now that Kyle Orton will finish the season as the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, does Matt Cassel have anything to worry about going into next year?

Well, he has more to worry about than he would had Tyler Palko remained his replacement.

I still think the Chiefs are committed to Cassel – who is out for the year with a broken hand -- for next season. But what if Orton clicks with the offense and leads the Chiefs to the playoffs? I guess all bets would be off.

Orton is a free agent at the end of the season, so he is auditioning for the entire league. If he builds a good thing in Kansas City, I could see the Chiefs being open to keeping him.

I do believe the current thinking is simply to have Orton play this year. The chance to get the experienced Orton for the rest of the season was the team’s primary motivation when the Chiefs claimed him Wednesday. Denver put him on waivers Tuesday.

But I’m sure the Chiefs will keep an open mind toward the future, especially since Orton and Cassel are fairly comparable players.

How does Orton’s presence affect Palko and Ricky Stanzi? I don’t think it affects Stanzi, the team’s fifth-round pick this year, at all. He is a project and he wasn’t going to play this season regardless. As for Palko, he is a low-level backup. He’ll play if Orton gets hurt, but the Chiefs had a chance to upgrade and they took it.

If Orton does leave Kansas City as a free agent, the Chiefs could get a compensatory pick for him in 2013, depending on how the rest of the team’s 2012 free agency develops.

Should the Colts claim Kyle Orton?

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
7:56
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The Indianapolis Colts can have quarterback Kyle Orton if they want him.

The question is, should they want him?

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Why they should: They stand to end up with with a historically bad record, just six weeks away from 0-16. They are deciding whether to move forward with Curtis Painter or change up to Dan Orlovsky. Orton is, without a doubt, a better quarterback than either of them. But he’d come in needing to learn what the Colts do, or they’d need to bend what they do to him. And that’s a lot to take on at this stage of the season.

The Colts aren’t big benders. Claiming Orton would be doing something different. It’s been a season when many critics have wondered why the Colts wouldn’t do something -- anything -- different to give themselves a better chance at winning. Grabbing Orton would be just that.

Why they shouldn’t: Frankly, if Orton came in and helped the Colts win a couple games, he could screw up the team’s draft position. The Colts have a pretty strong hold on the No. 1 overall pick in the April draft, and the consensus around the league is that Stanford’s Andrew Luck is the best quarterback to come out of college in some time.

I’m sure there is a salary-cap issue, but if the Colts really wanted Orton, they could find a way.

My verdict: Why not? A claim would make a statement to Colts fans that the team is still interested in improving and is unafraid of making a bold move.

That said, I’d be surprised if they do it. Staying the course has been a big deal for Indianapolis, and they’ve talked as if staying steady will win them something even if it means they don’t win a game.

Kyle Orton? NFC West remembers that guy

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
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Three NFC West teams went into the most recent NFL offseason with unsettled quarterback situations.

Among the potential options: acquiring veteran Kyle Orton from the Denver Broncos. It never happened, but Orton's viability is worth revisiting now that the Broncos are releasing him.

A few considerations:
  • Orton would be subject to waivers, meaning teams with poorer records would have priority in claiming him.
  • Any team receiving Orton on a waiver claim would inherit his contract, which has $2.5 million in salary remaining for this season.
  • Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, Indianapolis and Washington have immediate needs for starting quarterbacks.
  • Orton will want to play for a team with a shot at the playoffs. He cannot control where he goes via a waiver claim, but any team acquiring him will have to gauge Orton's receptiveness to the situation.
  • The Arizona Cardinals have committed to Kevin Kolb, but they have little invested in a backup. John Skelton is coming off a tough game. Orton would be affordable within the Cardinals' salary structure. He would upgrade depth, but could also threaten to undermine Kolb, a risk the team might not be willing to take.
  • The St. Louis Rams are committed to Sam Bradford, but they probably would have parted with backup A.J. Feeley had the lockout not wiped out the offseason. Feeley fit with former Rams coordinator Pat Shurmur. Orton and current Rams coordinator Josh McDaniels were together in Denver, so Orton would know the offense.
  • The Seattle Seahawks have pretty much given up on Charlie Whitehurst. It's unlikely Whitehurst will return in 2012. Why not accelerate the process by adding Orton to the mix for the remainder of the season? Seattle figures to draft a quarterback, with Tarvaris Jackson returning in some capacity. There might not be a spot for Orton, but Seattle's personnel department hasn't been afraid to churn the roster.
  • The San Francisco 49ers are pleased with Alex Smith, obviously, but they could use veteran depth at the position. Orton would provide that depth. But with a 9-1 record, the 49ers would not succeed on a waiver claim unless Green Bay were the only other team submitting one.

I doubt Orton will land in the NFC West. Teams already had a chance to pursue him, and did not. Orton would add valuable depth for every team in the division, however.

Could the Redskins pursue Kyle Orton?

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
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Big news of the afternoon is Adam Schefter's report that the Denver Broncos have waived Kyle Orton, who was their starting quarterback at the beginning of this season but lost his job to the unstoppable, inexplicable force that is Tim Tebow. There will be reaction to this news in all corners, but in ours the reaction centers among Washington Redskins fans who want to know if their team will claim him or sign him if he clears waivers.

Couple of things.

First, according to Adam's report, the Broncos decided to waive Orton in the hopes that one of these teams -- the Bears, Texans or Chiefs -- that recently lost its starting quarterback for the season to injury -- will pick him up and, along with him, the $2.5 million salary still left on his contract for this year. That's a pretty good chunk of salary for six games. If you're the Bears or Texans and your hopes of a playoff or Super Bowl run are riding on Caleb Hanie or Matt Leinart, maybe you spend it. If you're the out-of-contention Redskins and Rex Grossman is running your offense as well as can be expected given the team's injury-imposed deficiencies at running back, tight end, wide receiver and offensive line, maybe you keep that $2.5 million in your wallet.

However, I know for a fact that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan thinks highly of Orton. And while one of those other teams may have more of a pressing and immediate need for a veteran quarterback, the Redskins are ahead of them on the waiver list and could get him if they wanted to get him. If they decide it's worth it to spend the money, or if he gets through waivers, I could certainly see the Redskins making a move for Orton.

They are a future-focused organization right now, and I do expect them to address the quarterback position in next year's draft. But it's important to be deep at the quarterback position. Some teams (Bears, Colts, Chiefs) aren't, and it's hurting them right now. Some teams (Eagles) are, and they can handle the loss of their starter a bit more easily. Even if the Redskins do draft their quarterback of the future in April, nothing's promised. What if the kid's not ready right away? What if he gets hurt? What if they can't get the guy they wanted because everybody needs a quarterback and the draft led them instead to wide receivers and offensive linemen? Orton's a guy they like, available now, why not get him in so he can learn the offense?

Don't rule it out, is all I'm saying. I wouldn't make the Redskins the favorites for Orton, and I'd be mildly surprised if he's not a Bear by the time you're carving your turkey on Thursday. But I'm sure they'll at least look into it, and they'd be silly not to.

Dolphins should pass on Kyle Orton

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
7:55
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Don't be greedy, Miami Dolphins.

Let one of the playoff contenders with injured quarterbacks claim Kyle Orton and the $2.5 million remaining on his contract.

The Dolphins may have been interested in Orton at one time before the season. But they certainly don't need Orton now. Orton can't get Miami to the playoffs and Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore is doing just fine in the starting role.

Moore has won three straight games for the Dolphins and posted the highest Total Quarterback Rating in the NFL last week. You can't bench a player who is performing that well.

Therefore, if Orton can't start for the 3-7 Dolphins, there's no point in claiming him. Teams like the Chicago Bears (7-3) and Houston Texans (7-3) would love to have Orton down the stretch. Quarterbacks Matt Schaub (foot) and Jay Cutler (thumb) are out indefinitely for Houston and Chicago, respectively. Even the Kansas City Chiefs (4-6), without starting quarterback Matt Cassel (hand), could use Orton with still an outside chance of making a run at the AFC West division.

Because of record, Miami has waiver priority over all these teams. But the Dolphins making such a move would be out of greed, not need. That wouldn't be wise.

Will Kyle Orton become a Chief?

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
7:53
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Will the Kansas City Chiefs put in a claim on Kyle Orton?

We will find out Wednesday. I think it’s a possibility. In the past few hours since Denver waived the quarterback, I spoke to several people who believe the Chiefs will make a claim.

There are reasons why Kansas City could claim Orton. It could use a veteran signal-caller, it could absorb the cap hit it would take to get Orton and it is just two games out of the AFC West race.

If the 4-6 Chiefs still think they can make a run at the playoffs, they might — particularly given that they have the toughest remaining schedule in the league — be inclined to turn the offense over to Orton rather than stick with the inexperienced Tyler Palko, who made his first NFL start in the Chiefs’ 34-3 loss at New England on Monday night. Starter Matt Cassel is out for the season with a broken hand. Palko’s backup is rookie Ricky Stanzi.

If the Chiefs want Orton, they might be able to get him. Chicago has been mentioned as a landing spot for Orton — who was traded to Denver by the Bears in the Jay Cutler deal of 2009 — because Cutler is out for several weeks. The Chiefs have waiver priority over the Bears because they have a worse record. However, if a team like the Colts (who don’t have much cap room) or Redskins want Orton, the Chiefs would be blocked.

Still, there is no guarantee Kansas City will consider Orton. It could be interested in seeing what Palko – and maybe even Stanzi – can do with Cassel out. Still, if the Chiefs want a veteran, Orton presents an interesting option.

If the Chiefs do claim Orton, it would setup an intriguing Week 17 battle in Denver between the two teams. We’ll find out Wednesday if that juicy matchup comes to fruition.

What cutting Kyle Orton means

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
7:53
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The Denver Broncos cut former starter Kyle Orton on Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on the move:

Shrewd move by the Broncos: Give the Broncos a lot of credit for making this move now. They waited for some teams to get injuries – the Chiefs, Texans and Bears are all have suffered recent injuries at the position. Thus, Orton will likely be claimed Wednesday. If so, Denver will save the remaining $2.5 million in his deal. Orton is a free agent at the end of the season and there was virtually no chance he was going to take another snap in Denver, anyway.

No affect on Tebow: Don’t be fooled that the release of Orton is a sign the Broncos are prepared to commit long-term to Tim Tebow, who took over for Orton five games ago. The Broncos had no interest in re-signing Orton next year and Tebow is likely safe for the rest of the season. If Tebow were to be replaced this season, Brady Quinn would get the call. So, the release of Orton does not affect Tebow’s playing future.

Win/win: I wrote on the day Denver made Tebow the starter that the Broncos should get rid of Orton. He no longer served any purpose in Denver. He was not interested in being a backup to Tebow and Orton is likely thrilled to get a chance to go elsewhere. This has been coming since July. Remember, Denver tried hard to trade Orton to Miami as soon as the lockout ended. Orton’s presence on this team this year has been awkward. After going 1-4 with Orton, Denver is 4-1 with Tebow. The reality was, the Broncos were moving on without Orton whether he was or wasn’t on the roster.

Orton served his purpose in Denver: The Broncos were 4-14 with Orton since the start of last year and 8-8 with him in 2009. But he did have some moments. He was a decent bridge quarterback after the Jay Cutler trade with Chicago, which he was a part of. Orton was never great, but for a time, he was a productive player for Denver.

Who could be interested? The top possibilities, on paper, include Kansas City, Houston and Chicago. All three teams suffered recent injuries. I will come back with a post later on how I see Orton would fit there. I think Chicago would like to bring back Orton for the rest of the regular season with Cutler out. Houston, though, will not go after Orton, according to a local report. It wouldn’t be a major shock if a team such as Indianapolis or Washington puts a claim in just to see if he could be a good fit.

If you were a team in the playoff hunt and suddenly found yourself in all-out Armageddon at quarterback, who would you rather turn to: Kyle Orton or Nathan Enderle?

The answer is obvious, at least to me, and that's why it makes perfect sense for the Chicago Bears to place a waiver claim on Orton, whom the Denver Broncos waived Tuesday. Orton is three years removed from his tenure in Chicago and has no background with the offense the Bears run under offensive coordinator Mike Martz. But if current starter Caleb Hanie were sidelined while Jay Cutler recovers from thumb surgery, I would feel better with a veteran like Orton -- even if he knows 40 percent of the playbook -- than a rookie whose last game experience came while playing for the Idaho Vandals.

Coach Lovie Smith said Monday that he hoped to sign a veteran for depth in the coming days, and the Bears' lack of movement so far has fueled speculation they might be eyeing Orton. According to the Denver Post, Orton and his agent pushed for a move this week to give him a chance to re-join the Bears following Cutler's injury.

But keep in mind that the waiver system awards players in reverse order of record, with ties broken by strength of schedule, and there are at least two teams who have priority over the Bears that might also be interested. The Kansas City Chiefs have lost starter Matt Cassel and are going with inexperienced backup Tyler Palko. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are without starter Matt Schaub. The Chiefs and Texans have waiver priority over the Bears. *Update: The Texans are not interested in Orton, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

We'll know by Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET whether Orton has been claimed or if he is a free agent. I don't see a short-term scenario in which Orton could come in and start over Hanie, but he would be a more reliable option than Enderle at this point. From my understanding, Orton left Chicago on good terms with the organization and is respected by the veterans in their locker room. Stay tuned.
Orton
The Denver Broncos just released some statements on their release of former starting quarterback Kyle Orton. Here they are:

HEAD COACH JOHN FOX:

“I spoke with Kyle earlier today and thanked him for everything he did for the Broncos. He was a true professional throughout this season. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him as both a player and as a person.

“This was the right decision for our football team. We feel good about our quarterback group, and this gives Kyle an opportunity to help another team and showcase his talents.

“I wish Kyle and his family all the best going forward.”

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS JOHN ELWAY:

“I would like to thank Kyle for all his work with the Denver Broncos. In the three years that he’s been here, he’s been an absolute pro. We thought it was best for the Broncos at this time as well as for Kyle to catch on with a different team.

“Kyle is going to have more options in the NFL. He’ll get an opportunity to play somewhere else, and we wish him the best of luck.”

Broncos jettison Kyle Orton

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
4:25
PM ET

The Denver Broncos waived quarterback Kyle Orton on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Orton lost his starting job after five games and there was no way Orton was going to regain his job this year with Tim Tebow being 4-1 in five starts.

I will be back with some thoughts on this later.

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