The Hot Topic news of Tuesday afternoon was that Kyle Orton was waived by the Denver Broncos. Immediately when people hear of a starting quarterback being available they rush to a conclusion. Several fan bases immediately started talking about Orton going to their team. The most talked about teams are the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, and Kansas City Chiefs. All of these teams lost their starting quarterbacks recently and could use a veteran starting quarterback.
Here’s how this will work, Orton will now go through the waivers process where team can put in a claim for him before 4pm ET Wednesday afternoon. Whoever has the worst record will get first dibs on Orton and down the line the opportunity will go. For any teams that have the same record, like the Bears and Texans, the tiebreaker becomes strength of schedule. Chicago has played a tougher schedule, so Houston would have first choice. If a team does claim Orton, they’ll be on the hook for $2.6 million, the remainder of his contract this season.
Looking at Orton and his skill set, let’s take a look at him as a fit on the most probable teams.
I personally don’t see a fit with the Houston Texans. Gary Kubiak is extremely loyal and I believe he trusts Matt Leinart. After the Texans tried out five quarterbacks yesterday, Jeff Garcia, Trent Edwards, Chase Clement, Kellen Clemens, and Brodie Croyle, he has yet to sign any. Houston will find out tomorrow if Matt Schaub is done for the year. They will now also find out if Kyle Orton will be claimed by any team by 4 pm ET Wednesday afternoon. I don’t see the Texans putting in a claim for Orton but if he’s available after the waiver process concludes, Kubiak may try and sign him for a lower value. He’s an upgrade over the five QBs that he tried out. Orton wouldn’t come to Houston to start. He would be Leinart’s backup at best and if Leinart completely dropped the ball, then they would have a plan B to go to. If Schaub is told that he will be able to return in six weeks, then the Texans won’t place him on IR and they wouldn’t sign Orton.
The Chicago Bears are an obvious choice because of Jay Cutler’s injury and the fact that Orton had previous success under Lovie Smith there. You will probably the stat that Orton went 21-12 in Chicago a number of times the next few days. I really like Caleb Hanie though and believe he’s a better quarterback than Kyle Orton. The Bears moved on from Orton because they felt he couldn’t run the Mike Martz offense. Just like Houston, Orton could be a good veteran backup for the Bears, but that’s not a position that you want to pay $2.6 million, especially with Hanie getting $1.2 and Cutler possibly coming back in a few weeks.
The Chiefs make the most sense to me. They are down to a journeyman in Tyler Palko and a rookie backup in Ricky Stanzi. It’s not fair to grade Palko off of one start but when the opportunity shows itself, you have to take it in this league. Orton has proven that he can win games and for KC, what makes the move so much better is how fresh the Broncos’ tendencies are in his mind. The Chiefs also have a 4-6 record which places them above many teams in the claiming process including Houston and Chicago. Houston and Chicago would both need some luck if they were truly interested in claiming. With Kansas City only two games back in a weak AFC West, they could pick Orton’s brain on the Denver’s team. It’s rare to have a guy start on a divisional rival one year and then in the same year have him in your locker room preparing for his former team. Kevin Kolb made headlines recently when he talked about calling out the Eagles plays, which was his former team. The Cardinals pulled off an upset in that game. Coincidence?
The top team in priority is the winless Indianapolis Colts. If anyone has a need for a quarterback it’s the Colts. But they aren’t playing for anything…correction, they are playing to lose. They gave Peyton Manning their bank routing and account number before the season started, so I doubt they would pay another $2.6 to a quarterback that will cost them the #1 pick that they all worked so hard to suck as a unit and get. They can’t afford to have someone come in there and try doing something as absurd as winning football games. They will stick with Curtis Painter (MacGruber) and Dan Orlovsky on their mission to make Dan-O the first player to ever go 0-16 twice.
The Miami Dolphins wanted to trade for Kyle Orton at the beginning of the season. The deal fell apart because the Broncos’ asking price was too high. (Looking genius for that one right now aren’t we Elway and Co.) Now the Dolphins are red hot and on a 3 game winning streak. Matt Moore’s play has improved every week. This is the same organization that thought highly enough of Orton to attempt a trade. They may view Moore’s play as just a hot streak and want that security blanket of a veteran quarterback. I for one wouldn’t mess with the team chemistry that’s starting to build in Miami, but if Tony Sparano thinks that this is the guy, than he would have to go get him. Orton was very effective with Brandon Marshall in Denver but that was in the Josh McDaniels’ high octane passing attack. Who knows what Sparano is thinking?
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in desperate need of a starting quarterback, but Jack Del Rio drafted Blaine Gabbert and he’s too stupid to admit his own mistakes. He’ll stick with Blaine and ride him all the way to the unemployment line.
If the Arizona Cardinals lost faith in Kevin Kolb they could be tempted to take a shot.
The Seattle Seahawks should abandon ship with Tarvaris Jackson (throw him overboard if they could) for anybody but Jackson apparently has some juju over Pete Carroll.
Now, let’s talk about my two dark horses that I believe have to take a chance if they can get him, the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets. It hasn’t been a secret that I felt Mark Sanchez has been the most overrated quarterback in the NFL for the last few seasons. Kyle Orton isn’t anything special, he’s vanilla and will make the throws he’s suppose to. But he also plays it safe and can cut down on costly turnovers. Out of everybody that’s available, there isn’t a better choice for the Jets down the stretch in this playoff race.
Mike Shanahan doesn’t have a starting quarterback on his roster. Out of all of the teams mentioned, the Redskins make the most sense. Orton is familiar with Jabar Gaffney and could be effective in this offense, but Shanahan seems like an old man who has lost his mind these days. It’s like he’s content with pissing off the masses. So with that said, he’ll probably just keep riding with Rex Grossman.
That’s my take on the teams with possible interest in Kyle Orton but let’s hear from NCAA Football & NFL Writer Dory LeBlanc.
First of all, it’s no secret that I am not an Orton fan. This has nothing to do with Tebow, and everything to do with his time as a Bear. Ok, maybe I was a little upset Orton was named the starter in the beginning of the season. Looking at the last five games, Elway and Fox may be regretting that decision since, you know, they just released him and all…. I don’t know if Tebow is the future in Denver, but I do know Orton certainly isn’t. So who is he the future for? No one!
Orton will be a band aid on some team that has no more options – and because of the abomination in Indy – isn’t going to enter the Andrew Luck Lottery. Here’s why it will not be the Chicago Bears: THEY TRADED THE FARM TO GET RID OF HIM. THEY ARE NOT TURNING AROUND AND PAYING $2.6 MILLION TO SIGN HIM AGAIN. In fact, while everyone was going bananas over Orton going back to Chicago, ESPN Chicago was reporting that the Bears are interested in Josh McCown.
Orton was 21-12 in his time in Chicago under Lovie Smith. Would they bring him back?
Here are a few more things to think about: then-offensive coordinator Ron Turner had to “dumb down” the system to make it friendlier for Orton, but now some people expect him to immediately grasp Mike Martz’s? Nope, it ain’t gonna happen. The brass at Halas Hall doesn’t stir the pot often, and doesn’t take too kindly to their pot being stirred. Ask Chris Harris how putting his spoon into the stew worked out. Also, Matt Pay Forte and Lance Briggs sure are quiet about their contract extensions these days. Then again, so is Jerry Angelo. I just don’t see Angelo, Lovie, or McCaskey throwing the Chicago sports world into frenzied melee over Kyle Orton. If they want frenzied melee, they can just call Favre. You know, because at least he can win a football game or two. Okay, that isn’t fair. Looking at the remainder of the schedule, Caleb Hanie probably can do at least that, and at least Hanie is familiar with Martz’s offense.
Texans – If The Kubes didn’t sign Garcia, he isn’t signing Orton. He really doesn’t need a QB. Just let Foster and Tate keep running for 689 yards a game. Then, on occasion, let Hollywood throw to the second-best WR in the NFL.
Chiefs – Like Jayson, I think this move makes sense. Todd Haley is an idiot and that’s precisely why this makes sense to me. I guess maybe they think they have a shot at the AFC West title, but they don’t. Not because other teams are that much better or more talented, but because Todd Haley is an idiot.
Colts – Not that signing Orton gets them out of the running for the Andrew Luck Lottery, because trust me here, it doesn’t. Knowing Orton however (not personally) he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder and try to win games. Irsay isn’t having that at this point.
Dolphins – Maybe. It’s a possibility since they did attempt a trade for Orton. But Matt Moore is doing ok, and they are winning a games now. If they are out of the Luck Lottery, they may be hoping for Barkley Bingo. I think if anything, they avoid the wallet-hit and let whatever happens with Moore to happen.
Jaguars – Another possibility since they were dumb enough to draft Gabby, why wouldn’t they be dumb enough to sign Orton? Wait. Does Jacksonville even have $2.6 million? Probably not. Never mind.
Seahawks – Again, I’m with Jayson – TJack has some strange bromantical hold over Pete Carroll. This kid shouldn’t be playing Madden 12, let alone in the NFL. That sounds like it would play into the “dumb enough to sign Orton” category, but I think Carroll sticks with his man. (Take that however you’d like)
On to Jayson’s dark horses:
Jets – Mark Sanchez isn’t very good, but he plays for a New York team which means he gets lots of Paparazzi following him around to various night clubs and what-not. The ladies of NY-NJ seem to think he’s cute, and since it’s all about image to the Jets, they stick with their cutie-pie QB. They’ve got that Patriot rivalry thing going, the cover of the Post looks way better with Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez on the front than Brady and Orton. (As you can tell, I really don’t have a good explanation. I was really just looking for a reason to have a mental picture of Brady and Sanchez together.)
Redskins – As a Gator, I am quite fond of Sexy Rexy. Pulling that card, I say the crazy old man sticks with him. They may be pulling their own cards for the Barkley Bingo.
So in synopsis, I say Chiefs and not the Bears. Please not the Bears. Anybody but the Bears. I will develop a drinking habit if he comes back to the Windy City. Better yet, hopefully he just goes away. I’d definitely drink to that.
It seems as if Dory and I would both take the Chiefs if we had to bet on a team. There still are some wild cards and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if another team ahead of KC sneaks Orton away from them. Apparently Kyle Orton offended Dory’s whole family at some point during his stay in Chicago. While I don’t have general dislike for the guy’s play, I do agree he’s not a game changer but he can be a game manager that’s capable of making throws that several of these teams’ options can’t. Several of these teams need just that.
What does this mean for Denver? It’s a great move. They realize that even if they lose Tim Tebow to injury, that no one on this team will step in and run this offense. They would have to switch the whole offense again and at that point, the season would be loss. In a shrewd money saving move, they decided with all of the NFL starting QB injuries they could release Orton and he would likely get claimed getting the Broncos off the hook for his remaining salary of $2.6 million. I’m guessing they’ll call up Adam Weber from the practice squad to become the team’s new third string quarterback.
Nothing left to do now except wait. We will know the answer in just a few hours.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock